Local authority apologises over unlawful removal of child

father-son

A council has apologised after it unlawfully removed a child from its mother and placed it with strangers without giving either parents notice of its intention to do so, The Guardian has reported.

Gloucestershire Council apologised “unreservedly” for its actions, which the court described as “unnecessary, disproportionate, and deeply traumatic for the mother”.

In the event that the child was removed from the mother’s care, it should have immediately gone to live with its father or other relatives, the court said.

Instead, it took six weeks for the mother to get the child back into her care.

Judge Stephen Wildblood said the child had been taken from its mother’s care with a “degree of subterfuge and immediacy” that was “plainly wrong”.

The court heard how on 1 June, the mother was informed by social workers that she should immediately attend a meeting at the council’s offices. She was only then told about the council’s actions in the presence of a police officer. The social workers had sought no legal advice on the summary removal.

According to the report, the council should have placed the child into the care of the father or a paternal aunt, who had been approved as a foster carer.

Judge Wildblood also criticised Gloucestershire Council for failing to observe its legal duty to give both parents 14 days’ notice of any intention to remove the child.

“In my opinion it is clear that the local authority acted in a way that was contrary to case law and in breach of the article 8 rights of both parents and the child,” he said.

Gloucestershire council said it apologised “to the court unreservedly that in our attempts to safeguard the welfare of this child, members of our children’s social care team breached the terms of a previous court order”.

“We also apologise to the child and the parents for our actions in this case and for any distress caused. This should never have happened and we have updated our policies and put in place safeguards, including ensuring that the assistant director or other senior officer will have oversight of all cases where action to remove children who are subject to care orders are being considered.”

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