Child Care Court Cases Increasing, Says Leicester Judge
14 April 2016, 15:09
The workload of family courts in England and Wales has increased significantly over the past year, a Leicester judge has said.
Judge Clifford Bellamy, who is based at a family court in Leicester, said statistics show a 13% rise in the number of child care proceedings issued by local authorities between April 2015 and February 2016.
He said that during that period the Leicester family court has seen a 39% increase in new care cases.
The judge said the increase in workload has not been matched by any increase in ``resources''.
Judge Bellamy outlined figures in a ruling on a case he is overseeing.
Leicestershire County Council had launched care proceedings in relation to a boy aged around 15 months.
The judge said concerns had been raised about bruising on the boy's face and arms.
He said he had been due to analyse evidence at a hearing in Leicester and make decisions about the cause of the youngster's injuries.
But he said evidence had not been produced on time, case management directions had not been complied with and public money was wasted.
He said Leicestershire Council was primarily to blame - although solicitors representing other people involved were also bore some responsibility.
Judge Bellamy outlined the demands on family court judges and quoted from statistics produced by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) in a conclusion to his ruling.
``Statistics show that in recent months, nationally there has been a significant increase in the number of new care proceedings issued,'' said the judge.
``Cafcass statistics show that over the 10 months from 1st April 2015 to 31st January 2016 the number of new care proceedings issued was up by almost 13% on the previous year.
``During that same period the family court in Leicester experienced a 39% increase in new care cases - three times the national average.
``That increase in workload has not been matched by any increase in court resources.''
He added: ``I make that point simply to underline the fact that court time is a precious resource. The court can ill-afford contested hearings being vacated because of the failure of one or more of the parties to comply adequately with the obligations placed upon them by the rules and by case management orders made by the court.''