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Park Square Barristers Seminars

Park Square Barristers Family Team Seminars highlight ‘Transparency’ impact

Seminars for social workers have been taking place this week provided by Park Square Barristers Family Team. A local authority has commissioned the sessions to provide training for their social workers.

Seminar topics include –

  • Understanding the court system
  • Basic court protocols
  • The role of the social worker in the court proceedings
  • The process of giving evidence
  • Case preparation

The impact of transparency in the family court

Practice guidance issued in 2014 by the President of the Family Division introduced a presumption that judgments of the Family Court will be published and public authorities and expert witnesses named, unless there are compelling reasons why the judgment should not be published.

UNISON represents about 40,000 social workers across the UK and has provided support to social workers who have been named in family court judgments. UNISON has found that the naming of social workers can lead to ‘a backlash against the social workers involved, exposing them to public hostility and media hounding. Workers in these situations have no means of defending themselves because confidentiality obligations mean they cannot speak about the cases.’ In response to concerns about the possible impact of transparency upon morale, recruitment and retention amongst social workers UNISON has recently published a report ‘Social Work, the Courts and the Consequences of Transparency’. The report presents research into the impact upon social workers of changes introduced into the Family Court that are designed to make the court more ‘Transparent’.

The report recommendations include social worker training to formally include modules about preparing for court.

Another perspective on the impact of ‘Transparency’ was aired by some social workers at the recent NSPCC Child Protection Conference who reported that –

‘TV programmes that show the difficult work of child protection together with increased transparency in the Family Courts have helped the work of front line professionals because there is a greater understanding of the work that they do.’

The UNISON report recommends that local authorities need to engage with the judiciary to review the impact of the transparency guidance on social work practice and identify circumstances and develop a protocol for when social workers’ names will not be published in order to protect them.

The transparency provisions require a careful and co-ordinated judicial approach as the impact of the changes becomes more evident.

Seminars

Park Square Barristers Family Team provides a varied programme of training seminars to professionals working in the family courts.

The sessions this week have been delivered by Susan Fricker, Sally Beaumont, William Lindsay, Catherine Mason and Phillipa Smyth.

Throughout the year, Park Square Barristers delivers a high-quality programme of training seminars as well as bespoke training on request. The programme covers all practice disciplines and often niche interests. The seminars will be of interest to a wide range of professionals including solicitors, the police, local authorities, the CPS and other public organisations and agencies.