The Court of Appeal has upheld the decision of a local authority to place a baby born in prison in care, after the behaviour of the mother was believed to have put the child’s life in danger.
After the local authority had obtained a separation order, which it did as a matter of urgency outside normal working hours, the mother sought a declaration that the authority’s action breached her human rights under Articles 6 (the right to receive due process of law) and 8 (the right to respect for family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Court rejected the mother’s claims. The social worker, council and family judge involved all acted in good faith and made decisions that were reasonable in the circumstances and based on the information to hand. The welfare of the child was of paramount importance and the separation was intended to be temporary. Decisions made under pressure and in exceptional circumstances were not to be criticised if made in good faith and on the evidence available at the time, even if a more lengthy analysis of the facts might have led to a different decision.
This case illustrates that the courts appreciate the pressures under which social workers operate, and will support decisions which are reasonable with regard to the circumstances.
Click here for guidance on the legal process of taking children into care.