Speech by Lord Justice McFarlane: Care Crisis Review Launch

“Crisis” maybe an overused word and some, outside the court system, may have questioned its deployment by Sir James Munby two years ago in relation to the rise in the number of care applications being received by the courts. For my part, I consider that Sir James was fully justified in calling this a crisis and, as the continuing figures have borne out since, Sir James was plainly right to blow the whistle when he did. The CAFCASS figures for last month, May 2018, record the second highest monthly figure for care applications received. I, too, am clear that this is a crisis and I am extremely concerned to see that it is by no means abating.

As the Report demonstrates, the rise in the number of applications may be attributed to a broad range of factors, some wholly disassociated from each other, which may impact upon the decision to issue a care application in a complicated, and at present little understood, manner. It seems to be the case in relation to each of these factors that, rather than the relevant families’ circumstances being addressed in another way, the default position has been to bring the matter to court by issuing a Section 31 Application.

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