Grandparents Apart UK

Grandparents Apart UK
"Bringing Families Together"

Friday, July 17, 2009

british Baby seized in Ireland

Date: Tuesday, 16 June, 2009, 3:50 PM

British baby siezed in Ireland after parents flee social workers over custody row
A three-day-old girl is at the centre of an emotional custody battle after a British couple fled to Ireland to have their baby only to have it siezed by social workers in the Republic.

By Andrew Alderson, Chief Reporter Published: 9:00PM BST 06 Jun 2009

On the advice of an MP, the heavily-pregnant woman and her partner gathered belongings into their car and left the UK for Ireland last week after British social workers told them their child would be taken into care within hours of birth.

However, within 24 hours of the birth of their daughter on Thursday, weighing 7 lbs 10 ozs at Wexford General Hospital, the baby was instead seized by Irish social workers in the town. Tomorrow her parents must begin what is likely to be a lengthy legal battle in Ireland for their right to bring up the child. It is understood that social workers may seek to have her adopted.

The couple have already had their first two daughters taken into care in Britain, and later adopted against their wishes, following an incident in which one of the girls was found to have been hurt. Although the parents were later cleared of any offence, their children were never returned and they have remained under the scrutiny of social services.

They were advised by John Hemming, an MP and an expert in family law, that they were unlikely to get a fair hearing at a British court. He put them in touch with a contact in Ireland, where they hoped they would be outside the jurisdiction of the British family courts. But the Wexford hospital learned about the family's troubled past when they contacted a hospital in Essex to obtain the pregnant woman's medical records.

Mr Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley, said: "I am embarrassed that I have to say to people that they won't get a fair hearing in the family courts in England and Wales, and the best thing for people facing removal of their child at birth is to emigrate." He still believes the couple are likely to get a fairer hearing in Ireland than England in what may prove to be a test case.

The couple cannot be named in order to protect the identity of their baby and their two other children, who were taken into care in 2005, one aged two, the other newborn.
In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Telegraph, they said they were distraught by the events of this weekend. Speaking after they saw their then day-old baby driven away to go to a foster carer, the tearful father said: "We are completely devastated. We have done nothing wrong and yet we have lost our baby."

Speaking before the birth, the couple explained why they had gone to Ireland, where they had considered they were safe. "This has been a difficult decision but we are not prepared to lose another child. It's heartbreaking being without my other daughters - I think about them every day. This has all been very stressful but I just have to be strong," said the mother, aged 27.
"We had a meeting with social services [in Essex] who told us as soon as our daughter was born they would take her into 'temporary' foster care while they did assessments. They said that she would be at significant risk of harm. They said, if necessary, they would get an emergency protection order."

The father, 35 and a former serviceman, said: "I am very angry. I fought for my country but now I have been forced to leave it. We are not baby factories for these people just so they can get their quotas up."

In 2000, Tony Blair set a target for a 50 per cent increase in adoptions nationwide to reduce the time children spent in foster care. Councils were offered cash bonuses totalling £36 million for hitting their goals. But once a child is adopted, he or she can never be returned, even if the natural parents are later cleared of any wrongdoing.

The father added: "We have basically sold everything to get the money to move to Ireland. Under family law in England, you are guilty until proven innocent - and you can never prove your innocence."

The couple, who had been living in a rented flat in Essex, had a meeting with social services, the police, health workers and a solicitor nine days ago. Southend-on-Sea social services intervened after an anonymous tip-off that the couple were living in the area and had previously had their two daughters taken into care by Bromley social services

The two daughters were taken into care because they were considered "at risk", after the mother took the older girl to see a doctor, who diagnosed that she had had been sexually abused. The couple insist that if anyone abused their daughter, the culprit must have been a babysitter or a member of the extended family, and that the incident occurred without their knowledge.

After a police inquiry, the Crown Prosecution Service decided to take no action against them. The couple now have a framed seven-by-five-inches photograph of their two daughters in their hotel room in Ireland. They also have a "memory box" for each child, now aged five and three, in which they put birthday and Christmas cards, and other memorabilia.
The couple hope their daughters will choose to try to get in contact with them when they are adults. The father, who is the biological father of the younger adopted daughter but not the older one, also has two older children from a previous relationship.

The couple have been together for more than five years and plan to marry in September. Last week they packed some belongings into five black bin bags, loaded them into their car and drove to Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, to take the ferry to Rosslare, County Wexford. They have rented a three-bedroom flat in Ireland and intend to build a new life in the country.

The father was a Senior Aircraftsman in the RAF for four years before working as a doorman, dustman and driver. He has recently been on incapacity benefit, after being injured in a car accident. The mother, who had never been abroad before arriving in Ireland, has worked as a carer for the elderly and hopes to return to work. Mr Hemming, who has successfully campaigned for greater openness in the family courts, said: "I don't blame this couple for being angry. In England and Wales, however, we have a system that is obsessed with adoption."

Mr Hemming said that of cases in 2007 where a local authority applied for and pursued a care order, only 0.27 per cent had the application rejected. "We need to take a look at the way the family courts system operates because we need to stop the Baby Ps [the boy abused and killed in Haringey, north London] happening, while also allowing people in England and Wales to raise families without the fear or arbitrary intervention based on inadequate evidence."
Paul Greenhalgh, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council's Corporate Director for Children and Learning, said: "We are committed to making plans that are in children's best interests but we do not comment on individual social care cases."

A spokesman for Bromley council said: "In accordance with national procedures, the local authority informed the other council involved of previous child protection concerns in this case. Based on this information that council would have formulated its own child protection plan."
A spokesman for Wexford county council was unavailable for comment this weekend.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Child Murder Epidemic

The child murder epidemic: Deaths as shocking and avoidable as Baby P's happen every single weekBy Peter OborneLast updated at 3:20 AM on 10th July 2009Comments (19) Add to My Stories Tragic: Baby P shortly before his deathAs a nation, we became obsessed with the case of Baby P. We winced at the details of his unbelievably cruel death at the hands of his mother and her vicious boyfriend. We were angered by the failure of social services to protect this innocent little boy from harm. If there was any consolation in the outcry that followed, it was the thought that, in 21st-century Britain, such cases were rare. But this is a dangerously mistaken impression.

Sadly, there was nothing out of the ordinary about the ordeal of Baby P, or of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie - another notorious case of violence and neglect ten years earlier.Deaths every bit as terrible as theirs take place nearly every week in this country, largely unnoticed and unreported. The numbers are rising all the time, as a unique survey carried out for the Channel 4 Dispatches programme reveals.

For six months, researchers trawled through social service inquiries and reports from courts and inquests up and down the country.The Freedom of Information Act had to be invoked to get some councils to release key documents. In the end, we uncovered a total of 183 child killings between 2004 and 2008 attributed to a parent, a parent's partner or a carer. In 2004, there were 29.

The number doubled to 55 in 2007. The trend is upwards; shamingly so. For a supposedly civilised society, the statistics make chilling reading . Two-thirds of the 183 victims were under five. A third were less than a year old. Most were beaten to death, stabbed, smothered or strangled.In nearly three-quarters of the cases, the killers were either the child's mother or father (and on rare occasions both). One-fifth of deaths involved the mother's partner or new boyfriend. Men were twice as likely to kill as women. But look behind the figures to the reality of these tortured lives and the picture that emerges is almost Dickensian in its horror. For example, James Howson placed his 16-month-old daughter Amy - already skeletal from under-nourishment - across his knee and pressed down so hard he broke her back. A mortem revealed 40 other wounds inflicted on her in the four weeks before her death, including six fractures to her arms and legs. Howson had progressed from wife beating to child-beating - a not unusual phenomenon.

There were warning signs that, had they been picked up, might have prevented these deaths He had been expelled from school for violence, with a warning from a teacher that 'this boy will commit murder'. The research pinpoints the breakup of a marriage or live-in relationship as a particularly dangerous time for children.For example, after Lyn Philcox ended her eight-year marriage to husband Brian, he demanded custody of their children, Amy and Owen, stalked them on their way to school and put emotional pressure on them, trying to prise them from their mother.

The courts gave him limited access. On the day the divorce was finalised, he took them on an agreed outing, knocked them out with chloroform and killed them and himself with the exhaust fumes from his car. Our findings show that 20 children died on access visits like this, and the separation of parents was a factor in a quarter of all the killings.After his wife left him because of his violent and drunken ways, Chris Hawkins stabbed his 14-year-old daughter Donna and four-year-old son Ryan. Donna survived the frenzied attack, but little Ryan, with nine wounds in his arms and chest, died.But it is not just men who commit these dreadful crimes. Ms G had once been sectioned and was on medication to control her schizophrenia. Convinced that her two children were not hers, she suffocated three-year-old Keniece with clingfilm and battered ten-year-old Antoine with a hammer before strangling him.

In another case, Jael Mullings was a young and devoted mother. Living alone, with a history of depression, she could not cope. After reaching a crisis point, she stabbed her two young sons through their hearts. But blaming her entirely for that terrible double tragedy is wrong. Little has improved since Victoria Climbie was tortured and killed by her great aunt and her boyfriend We now know that she was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

After the birth of her second son, Dalayno, three months before the deaths, she was also suffering from post-natal depression and asked the authorities for help. But, according to her family, all she received was childcare. She wasn't given a mental health assessment. On the day of the killings, she had begged her local health centre to have her children taken into care. Her behaviour was so out of control that the police were involved. But no one acted decisively until it was too late. In her story - as in all the others quoted here - there were warning signs that, had they been picked up, might have prevented these deaths. If only health visitors who called at the Howson home to see little Amy had demanded to know why her father wouldn't let them in. If only the family courts had not authorised contact between the unstable Brian Philcox and his children.If only mental health workers had made sure that Antoine and Keneice's mother was taking her medication before she was allowed unsupervised by Peter Oborne access to them.If only Jael Mullings' mental health deterioration had been picked up sooner and acted upon. If only . . . It is a sobering fact that half the children who died were known to social services and somehow slipped through the net of officialdom to their deaths. But, just as significantly, half had never been referred to the authorities: they weren't even in the net.

This is the real nature of the crisis I believe we are facing in this country. Our obsession with Baby P has not only proved unhelpful in disguising from us the true extent of child killing, it has also distracted policymakers from asking the right questions. Because Baby P was on a child protection register, the overriding issue became the spectacular failure of Haringey social services in its legal duty to look after his welfare.Divorce is the time of maximum danger for children, especially if there is a background of violence in the householdHowever, our study showed failure of this kind was extremely unusual. There are around 30,000 children in the UK on child protection plans, yet, on average, only two of them are killed each year by parents or carers. This is two too many, of course. But the fact is that, contrary to public perception, social workers appear, on the whole, remarkably good at safeguarding children - once they are on child protection registers.But only 11 of the 163 children in our study were on registers at the time of their deaths. The vast majority - some 93 per cent of the cases we examined - involved children who were not on protection registers. The policy consequences of this are dramatic. Even if, in the aftermath of Baby P, the Government carries out its pledge that social workers won't fail those on child protection registers ever again, then we'll only ever save two, maybe three, lives a year.

What won't be addressed is the bigger problem: those thousands of children who live in deadly peril but are not identified as at risk. We need to identify them early, and protect them before it is too late. But is such a course of action possible? Official doctrine says no. Whenever a child dies and abuse or neglect is suspected, local authorities are obliged to carry out what is known as a 'serious case review', many of which we examined in our survey. But, as we discovered, it is commonplace for these reviews to shy away from apportioning blame, and to conclude that the particular child's death was impossible to predict - and therefore impossible to prevent. The implication is that child killing is random. It might happen to anyone, anywhere, and at any time. However, I strongly challenge this view. Brother and sister Owen and Amy Philcox: Killed by their father on the day his divorce from their mother was finalisedThis new research shows that deaths very rarely come 'out of the blue'. The vast majority of child killings fall into clear categories - and almost all the ones we examined had clear lessons for preventing such tragedies happening again. For example, the figures show quite clearly that children of violent parents are most at risk. In nearly half the cases, parents who killed had a history of violence to their adult partners. Most were known to the police, health visitors or social workers for their uncontrolled behaviour.

Yet only two of these children were deemed sufficiently at risk to be registered as needing protection. Toddler Ryan Hawkins was not one of them. Yet when we talked to his big sisters (something that, apart from one brief phone call, social services never did), we discovered repeated warning signs that their father, Chris, could be a danger to children. He once gripped his daughter Natalie around the neck, and social services were alerted after her sister Donna confided to a school nurse that her father had hit her and that she was so afraid of him that she felt suicidal.

The key agencies say they don't have the money to make all the changes demanded But no proper risk assessment was done, despite the fact that Hawkins had also been charged by the police with raping his own wife, Val. Val felt let down because social services never warned her of the extra risk to children when parents split up. If they had, she would have done something to stop Ryan going to see his dad. All agencies need to realise that separation is the time of maximum danger for children, especially if there is a background of violence in the household. Nor does barring a violent parent from the family home necessarily mean that children are safe. As we have seen, 20 children were killed on access visits, four of them on unsupervised visits ordered by the courts. The message is simple: when mothers leave violent or obsessively controlling partners, the children need special protection, particularly if that partner is unable to accept the break-up.

The arrival of a new partner can be another danger point. Twenty-two children were killed by the mother's new boyfriend, usually within three months of moving in.Most of these new men had known the mother for less than six months. It is clear, too, that the authorities should be alert to parents with serious mental health problems, which was an issue in one in four of the child homicide cases we examined.Drugs were another factor. One in five died at the hands of addict parents. The fact that some were undergoing treatment for their addiction was no safeguard.

More from Peter Oborne... PETER OBORNE: Amoral spiv or true traditional Tory? Will the REAL Cameron please stand up 10/07/09 PETER OBORNE: Our Right Honorable liars and the debauching of democracy 03/07/09 PETER OBORNE: This reveals both moral and economic bankruptcy 30/06/09 PETER OBORNE: Why David Cameron won't sack these expenses cheats 27/06/09 PETER OBORNE: Labour's sinister revolution will tear Britain's 700-year-old constitution to shreds 23/06/09 PETER OBORNE: Europe and a squalid Blair, Cameron pact 19/06/09 PETER OBORNE:

Most candidates have had their hands in the till - this grubby race to become Speaker reveals MPs have learnt nothing 13/06/09 PETER OBORNE: How a Labour vacuum let in the bigots 09/06/09 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE Seven children died after ingesting methadone - the heroin substitute offered to addicts. Six years have now passed since Lord Laming's very thorough report into the murder of Victoria Climbie (who was tortured by her great aunt and her boyfriend in 2000) made 108 recommendations.A 'progress report' following Baby P's death made another 50 or so recommendations earlier this year. But these recommendations are not necessarily being acted upon. The key agencies say they don't have the money to make all the changes demanded. But lack of resources is not the principal issue here. What matters is a change of attitude. Social workers, health visitors, police, GPs, the probation service, school teachers and members of the public must take on board the plain fact that far too many children are failing to get the protection they need. If we are to prevent many more from dying, we must first acknowledge the seriousness of domestic violence. Most children living in violent homes are known to the authorities, yet most do not qualify for child protection.

This is a scandal. Then we must recognise that the vast majority of these killings are behind closed doors - and that perhaps it's time we prised open these doors. Persistent failure to attend routine medical check-ups featured in 20 of the killings we studied, and yet there was no follow-up. Missed appointments should trigger concern. Perhaps it should also be made compulsory for children to be seen in their homes by health visitors at least once a year. Above all, social workers need to listen if they are to save lives.It was stunning to discover that in 11 deaths, parents had specifically warned relatives, friends, colleagues, GPs or psychiatrists that they intended to kill their children and themselves.Yet no one took them seriously enough to do anything.

There also needs to be more listening after the event. In the reports we saw of internal social services inquiries into what went wrong in particular cases, it was rare that anyone had bothered to ask relatives of the dead children for their opinion. When consultation did take place, it was usually superficial - as if the views of the people in the best position to advise on how to prevent these horrors happening again were immaterial.This arrogant refusal to include those most intimately involved in child homicide cases seems to run throughout the whole system. It must stop.What must also stop is the purely advisory nature of official guidelines for child protection.

They need to be mandatory on local authorities, with sanctions if they are not followed. Only then can we begin to stem this tragic tidal wave of easily preventable deaths among the most vulnerable in our society. Dispatches:

The Children Britain Betrayed is on Channel 4 on Monday at 8pm.

Monday, July 13, 2009

My Family Destroyed (A mothers story)

We were once a happy family of four until 'April 2005' our happy family was forced to become three and then two by 'May 2007'. Following this destruction we were then forced to become one, which came finally on 'March 2008’. Each one of us ripped apart from what was a family of four when my children were taken from school by two policemen and a social worker without any explanation.

I naively went ahead and put up a fight demanding answers and the wrongs against me to be put right. "No one has told me why. No one has answered my questions. No charges have been brought against me, only just dumb silence.

“How dare they or anyone take my children from me breaking up my family and home”. They made one thing clear to me, “give up” they said, as you will never win, so many have tried before you and not one has beaten this system” Sadly what they said is oh so true because if they cannot win fairly they concoct a winning plan.

I blame myself; if I hadn’t argued and challenged them then maybe I would not have lost my kids.

My then partner’s mother was the one that the authorities dealt with; all communication was going to her address. Her other two daughters-in-law worked with them and I naively thought they were doing right by me and put my trust in them. I was not told half of what was going on. I lost my son to my partner when we split up because of this cloak and dagger stuff and the result was I was declared an unfit mother and banned from my kids.

My daughter’s daddy is different from my son’s dad and his granny also works with the authorities.. Because of this other charade I have lost my daughter too, the granny has been given my daughter and gets full foster allowance for her every week.

I know now I was too trusting with people I thought I could trust them and went by their guidance. That naive trust has left me branded an unfit mother and has lost me my family. The authorities have written me off and will not even grant me a hearing because I have fought so hard for my children they have branded me as mentally disturbed. I have never been diagnosed by any doctor or psychiatrist or anyone. Would you be angry if your family was removed from you without just cause?

The unjustified devastating treatment my family has suffered in Scotland has caused me go to Ireland in search of justice and take my daughter. Now she will not leave my side and wants to be near me all the time every minute.
It broke my heart to leave my son behind as our happiness would have been complete if he had come but I could not force him, he has been through so much.

A fair hearing is all she has ever wanted but it has been denied to her all along. She is regarded as an alien in this country.

Sue has made getting her family back an obsession as she has educated herself on family law and has created dossiers as thick as phone books in an effort to be with her kids again; She has tape recordings, prepared proof of laws that have been broken against her and her kids but no one will listen.

We have known Sue for a few short months and when you observe this mother and daughter and listen to them you just know their hearts and souls are meant to be together.

We were told she was going to visit a childhood friend in Belfast but in desperation to be as a family again has driven her underground to the Republic of Ireland where she has been given residency and has been told she will get justice in Ireland because their family laws are fairer than in Scotland.

Jimmy Deuchars
Grandparents Apart UK
22 Alness crescent
Glasgow G52 1PJ
0141 882 5658

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Weekly

Margaret & Jimmy Nicola & Joanne
My Weekly.
July 11th 2009

What happens when a parent dies or a relationship breaks down? These courageous grandparent s' stories offer fresh hope to others.

Susan, Jimmy and Margaret Deuchars’ daughter, had just given birth to her youngest daughter, Nicola, when she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer.

From her hospital bed, she made a heartbreaking plea to her parents: "I'm not going to make it. Please help Joe with the girls." "It was such a difficult time but we told her that we would always be there for them," says Jimmy. "We loved them and they were our last link to our daughter."

For three years after Susan passed away, Nicola and her older sister, Joanne, enjoyed the stability of their grandparents' home with regular visits. But then everything changed. Joe met a new partner and announced that he and thegirls were moving from Glasgow to Liverpool to be closer to her.

Margaret continues. "We were told we could see them every month, but then contact just slipped away.

For at least six months we did not see them at all, which broke our hearts. I could not believe anyone would do this. We were the girls' security. They loved their dad, but they relied on us." After six months seeing the children, the couple grew desperate. "We thought that was it — we were being denied contact altogether," says Jimmy.

Remembering the promise they had made to their daughter they hired a lawyer but were shocked to learn that they had no legal rights to see their grandchildren. "In the eyes of

the law, we were classed as irrelevant persons," says Jimmy.

The couple turned to the family court in Liverpool, who arranged a mediation session, with both sides getting the chance to air their views.
Eventually an agreement was reached and we were able to see Nicola and Joanne once a month and have them to stay during the school holidays "It was heart-breaking, but better than nothing," Jimmy says. "When we saw them again after all that time, wewere all crying. We met up halfway between Glasgow and Liverpool, at Carlisle Castle, and as they came running up to us with their arms outstretched, we both burst into tears."

After three years, Joe's relationship sadly broke up but visits became far more frequent and relaxed.

Now that Nicola and Joanne are older, how do they feel about their grandparents'struggle for access to them that they were too young to understand at the time? "I think they're proud. They appreciate the fact that we put up a fight for them," says Jimmy.

Grandparents Apart UK provides support, advice and counseling for grandparents in this situation, and campaigns for a change in the law to recognize grandparents more.
Visit or call 0141 882 5658

Clarification of our aima.

Two persons complained that we did nothing for families, only for the care system.

Nobody sees the hours we spend talking to distressed grandparents comforting them and in a few cases talking them round from suicide as well as trying to help them back into their grandchildren’s lives. Attached are guidelines we have produced with our experience for grandparents and parents let us know what you think of them we are always open for improvement.

As far as legal rights of contact for grandparents is concerned we have campaigned for just that for years and eventually it has went cold and nobody in government is interested. Where is the point of flogging a dead horse? We need to change tact.

We firmly believe we should have some sort of official contact for the safety of our ‘Forgotten Grandchildren’ especially in danger homes. We will still battle on for the ‘Charter for Grandchildren’ to be made mandatory for professionals. This would ensure by law that grandparents are recognised for the support and protection they can give their grandchildren. The government’s failure to do this is not using every possible effort in a child’s best interest.

We are now gathering support from MSPs and MPs and City Councillors.

A grandparent’s most concern is the children, without them why would we bother. Some grandparents demand rights for themselves just because they say so. Grandparents have reared a family and proud of it and quite rightly so but they need to be careful not to patronise the young parents. If they feel uncomfortable in visiting the grandparents they will eventually stop altogether then animosity creeps in... Parents need to make their own mistakes and do it their way.

When problems arise in a family there must be change, something is going wrong and needs to be nipped in the bud and Mediation is excellent for doing just that. It can stop a molehill becoming a mountain.

Grandparents must learn to let their son/daughter go as their child and they will surely return as a friend looking for loving advice and help but only when asked for. When they say to you “I want to do it my way” it should respected. They will, do it anyway and you won’t be there to pick up the pieces. You can’t control them all their lives.

Would you have put up with being told what to do or made to feel you are not doing it right when you were young? Think about it!

Jimmy Deuchars
Grandparents Apart UK
22 Alness crescent
Glasgow G52 1PJ
0141 882 5658


Who saves more children from abuse and neglect
than any other organisation yet are regarded as
irrelevant persons by law in children’s lives.

Who knows a family’s faults and weaknesses
better than anyone else in the whole
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Who can be your most valuable asset in child

Who picks up the pieces when drugs or alcohol
are involved and children are neglected.

Who is available 24/7 when children are in crisis,
homeless, or abused?

Who are the most carers of children and the most

Who does Woman’s Aid say can be well placed to
spot abuse in the family.

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information about children’s welfare.

They are not just for Christmas or babysitting, or buying prezzies, or taking children to school, or paying for
holidays or only available when you need them.

But they still love to be needed.

Think hard now!!!!!!!....Can you guess?
You would not be here without them.

Show them the love and respect they deserve.

Click on for the answer.