Petition update

The Irony: Brighton & Hove LA SW's Ignorance of the Law on Section 47's

Autistic Parent
United Kingdom

Nov 21, 2016 — Hello again supporters,

so who is the author of the law blog post on illegal S47's, quoted on the main petition page?

It's Andrew Pack, who is a lawyer for Brighton & Hove City Council – in a huge twist of irony. So, as Mr Pack clearly knows the law, why are social workers employed by the same LA, breaking it?

There is a June 2015 Guardian article here about parents recording meetings with SWs, in which Mr Pack is quoted:

The article explains that SW dishonesty is what has triggered parents recording meetings and an independent SW states she's seen minutes of meetings she was in, which bore no relation to the content of said meeting, further proving this dishonesty is going on.

"Commenting on the case, Andrew Pack, a local authority solicitor in the south-east of England and a blogger on legal matters writes, “There’s a great deal of suspicion,” says Pack. “A social worker will tend to get straight on the phone to their [council] lawyer saying a parent wants to [record], or a parent has done it, and I don’t want it.”

(So Brighton & Hove SWs have clearly been complaining about parents recording them then.)

Mr Pack goes on:

"Although there is nothing in law to say a parent can’t record their social worker or needs official permission, up until a couple of years ago a council solicitor would write to the parents’ lawyers and say “this is unreasonable, we are not able to go ahead with the assessment on this basis, and we are now regarding you the parents as being uncooperative,” says Pack. With the stakes so high, the parents’ lawyers would usually advise them to stop. But attitudes are changing. Pack’s advice to his council social work teams today is phlegmatic: they need to understand that recording daily life is now normal in society, and get on with their job."

"It can be instructive for professionals to consider matters from the point of view of a parent, he suggests. “You don’t know at the start of the relationship whether you have a good social worker or a bad one, and you won’t know until you see the report they write.”

"Social workers have told him that they feel awkward speaking on camera, worry their words might be taken out of context and feel as if being recorded creates an imbalance of power. “One of the things I say in response is that this is exactly what a parent feels – awkward, disempowered, that things will be used in evidence against them, and for exactly those reasons, recording can be an equaliser,” says Pack. “If you’re not going to say anything in those meetings that you will be ashamed of a judge hearing, then you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

(In any case, this subsequent [December 2015] article says it all (and there are a lot of legal citations in both article and comments):

"Parents CAN Record Child Protection Meetings"

It's very sad that there is any need to record at all, but the point is, as Mr Pack has clearly stated, there * are * bad SWs, parents are disadvantaged by the whole process and an honest SW would have no problem with it. And that's from the mouth of an employee, of the same council that is illegally investigating this family.

A last bit of advice for SWs from Mr Pack:

"FAIRNESS – in all decisions, strive to be fair – take things into account, even when they don’t fit with your hypothesis or initial thoughts, listen to what parents have to say, be honest about what you are seeing, ... be willing to consider that you might be wrong."

In case you're wondering about the Wonder Woman pic - - but I thought that was another strange irony, because autism mothers often do have to be wonder women for their children and even if I say it myself, in the face of (or perhaps because of) my own Asperger's that is what I have been. Making this state of affairs all the sadder and more wrong.

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