Cafcass and Implacable Hostility (Parental Alienation)

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In a previous FOI response Cafcass states that

“Cafcass understands and recognises the potential for implacable hostility by an ex-partner and also the potential for the ‘alienation’ of a child from one parent in high conflict private law cases. Such behaviour may be so severe it becomes emotionally harmful to a child. Cafcass recognises that cases where implacable hostility is a factor are particularly difficult to assess and resolve. The presence of implacable hostility may result in a recommendation by Cafcass for a Section 7 report to be carried out in which the child’s wishes and feelings can be assessed or in more complex and often long running cases a Rule 16.4 appointment can be made where a Children’s Guardian is appointed to represent the child as a party to the case.”

Please define what Cafcass means in this answer by the use of the word ‘understands’, as used in the sentence “Cafcass understands and recognises the potential for implacable hostility by an ex-partner and also the potential for the ‘alienation’ of a child from one parent in high conflict private law cases.”

Cafcass replied:

Cafcass holds no further definition of this term.

Please define what Cafcass means in this answer by the use of the word ‘recognises’, as used in the sentence “Cafcass understands and recognises the potential for implacable hostility by an ex-partner and also the potential for the ‘alienation’ of a child from one parent in high conflict private law cases.

Cafcass replied:

Cafcass holds no further definition of this term.

Please define what Cafcass means by use of the word ‘presence’ in this answer , as used in the sentence “The presence of implacable hostility may result in a recommendation by Cafcass for a Section 7 report to be carried out in which the child’s wishes and feelings can be assessed ……”

Cafcass replied:

Cafcass holds no further definition of this term.

Please detail how Cafcass determines the ‘presence of implacable hostility’, as used in the sentence “The presence of implacable hostility may result in a recommendation by Cafcass for a Section 7 report to be carried out in which the child’s wishes and feelings can be assessed ……”. What markers, tools, standards or any other methods does Cafcass apply to either determine that implacable hostility is present, or to determine that implacable hostility is not present.

Cafcass replied:

All practitioners are qualified social workers and any determinations by a practitioner within a case are specific to that case and are based on their professional judgement of the child’s welfare. If judged to be required, Cafcass has a ‘tool’ and a ‘knowledge bite’ to help assist our practitioners in being able to assess the presence of implacable hostility in private law cases. The ‘coached  children’ knowledge bite summarises research on the issue and the ‘Impact of parental conflict tool’ can be used by practitioners to analyse the impact of parental conflict and the level of parental influence on a child’s wishes and feelings.

What, if any, training is undertaken by practitioners to enable them to to effectively use such markers, tools, standards or any other methods as Cafcass sees is necessary, or appropriate, to either determine that implacable hostility is present or to determine that implacable hostility is not present.

Cafcass replied:

114 Vexatious or repeated requests. 
(2)Where a public authority has previously complied with a request for information which was made by any person, it is not obliged to comply with a subsequent identical or substantially similar request from that person unless a reasonable interval has elapsed between compliance with the previous request and the making of the current request

In an earlier FOI request Cafcass had replied to that request to say:

This ‘knowledge bite’ [editor’s note: This is referring to the Coached Children knowledge Bite] does not have training as it is a document which gives basic information and research links on the topic.

 

There is no specific training for this as it is covered in other general training. There is one relevant mention in an eLearning course:

 
This final tool should be used post-interview to analyse the impact of parental conflict and the level of parental influence on a child’s wishes and feelings. 

 

You should complete this tool after you have conducted your interviews with the parents and the child (if appropriate). It will help you to identify, and clarify, any emotionally  harmful influence of one or both parents on the child. Your findings can then be referenced in your report in the relevant section(s).

Where is the use of such markers, tools, standards or any other methods as Cafcass sees is necessary, or appropriate, to either determine that implacable hostility is present or to determine that implacable hostility is not present, identified as mandatory, and where is such use identified as optional.

Cafcass repeated:

14 Vexatious or repeated requests. 
(2)Where a public authority has previously complied with a request for information which was made by any person, it is not obliged to comply with a subsequent identical or substantially similar request from that person unless a reasonable interval has elapsed between compliance with the previous request and the making of the current request

In an earlier FOI request Cafcass had replied to that request to say:

There are no specific recommendations  and use depends on the nature of the case and the professional judgement of the Family Court Adviser.

To return to this FOI request…

The FOI answer stated “The presence of implacable hostility may result in a recommendation by Cafcass for a Section 7 report to be carried out in which the child’s wishes and feelings can be assessed or in more complex and often long running cases a Rule 16.4 appointment can be made where a Children’s Guardian is appointed to represent the child as a party to the case.”

Please detail how many Section 7 reports have been recommended, due, either in full or in part, to the existence or the potential existence of the presence of implacable hostility in a case. Please detail this information by region for the past 5 years.

Cafcass replied:

Cafcass does not collect information on why reports have been requested by the court centrally. In order to provide a response, each case file would need to be checked individually.

 

As  Cafcass  handles  tens  of  thousands  of  cases  annually,  the cost of compliance would exceed the appropriate limit which for Cafcass is £450. In our estimation the cost (a flat rate of £25 per hour provided by the FOI Act) would exceed the appropriate limit which is 18 hours for Cafcass.

 

A response to this request is therefore exempt under Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Please detail how many Section 7 reports have been carried out where the existence or the potential existence of the presence of implacable hostility in a case has been identified. Please detail this information by region for the past 5 years.

Cafcass replied:

Cafcass does not collect information on whether a case may involve this issue centrally; this request is therefore exempt under Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Please detail how many Section 7 reports that were carried out within them identified the existence or the potential existence of the presence of implacable hostility in the case. Please identify, if possible, if any of these cases resulted in a ‘No Contact’ Order, or a ‘Indirect Contact only’ Order. Please detail this information by region for the past 5 years.

Cafcass replied:

Cafcass does not collect information on whether a case may involve this issue centrally; this request is therefore exempt under Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Please detail how many Rule 16.4 appointments were made where a Children’s Guardian was appointed to represent the child as a party, as a result, either in full or in part, to the existence or the potential existence of the presence of implacable hostility in a case. Please detail this information by region for the past 5 years.

Cafcass replied:

Cafcass does not collect information on whether a case may involve this issue centrally; this request is therefore exempt under Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Please detail how many Rule 16.4 appointments that were made where a Children’s Guardian was appointed to represent the child as a party, identified the existence or the potential existence of the presence of implacable hostility in a case. Please identify, if possible, if any of these cases resulted in a ‘No Contact’ Order, or a ‘Indirect Contact only’ Order. Please detail this information by region for the past 5 years.

Cafcass replied:

Cafcass does not collect information on whether a case may involve this issue centrally; this request is therefore exempt under Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Link to original FOI Request and to the earlier one

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