Family Court Statistics

21 October 2008 — 44 Comments

My good friend Dave sent me this dramatic photo he took from an article in today’s Independent newspaper regarding opening up the Family Courts to the public.

In 2007, Family Courts in England and Wales…

  • heard 107,075 cases involving children
  • recieved 138,000 petitions for divorce
  • issued 26,901 domestic violence orders

While I’ve not yet read the entire article, those are sad statistics that make me think such painful court proceedings should be kept private rather than exposed for anyone to witness.

Jon

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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I’ve worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise.

Check out ‘Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities‘ and read my opening chapter.

44 responses to Family Court Statistics

  1. You should read the article and also go and have a look at how many mothers were put into prison for contempt of court following secret trials. I was nearly one of those jailbirds – I was raped 12 years ago, my rapist took me to court, he used the secret courts as a tool to stalk me! The police would not prosecute him, neither would they investigate the abuse I suffered as a 13 year old at Chadswell Assessment Centre, Lichfield – a childrens home that was being run by pedophiles. It took seven years of fighting for me to earn the right not to send my son to a rapist. If the newspapers had been able to report on my case it would have been on the front of every tabloid, I would not have been tormented for seven years and the taxpayers, which includes you, would not have had to foot the £100,000 bill that it cost everyone to allow a rapist to take his victim to court for 7 years.

  2. Hi Zoompad,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment here. Your terrible experiences put the debate in a whole new light! Do you think everyone would benefit from opening up the Family Courts? Are there many cases like your own?

  3. Excellent response Nick. I’m aware of some of what Fathers 4 Justice do and am glad you’ve taken the time to post. Being reasonably ignorant on the subject, would allowing all cases into the public arena solve some of these issues? Could parents use or abuse the potential media coverage to their advantage (good or bad)?

  4. Fair points, well made! 🙂 If, as you say, court is not the right place to deal with the majority of cases, how then should they be resolved? Working as I do with kids, I’m interested in the impact of an open court on them. Personally I have an affinity to openness and honesty so the idea appeals, yet I can’t help thinking about the torment these kids go through anyway. If more of their peers knew about the situation would it provoke ridicule or empathy? Also, where is the current legislation at about opening Family Courts? What is the argument against and when will it all get decided?

  5. Yes Jon, there are many cases like Zoompad's where parents try to prevent contact between a child and the other, violent parent. There are also many cases where decent parents desperately try to have contact with their child which the other parent obstructs. Every year the courts make 60,000 or so orders for contact.

    The problem is that the courts don't distinguish, treat all cases the same, and squander scant resources 'protecting' children who don't need protection. Children who do need protection are put at risk. They do this through a combination of idleness, habit, incompetence and extreme ideologies, all protected by secrecy.

    It is a misconception that secrecy is there to protect children from publicity – it is actually because it's believed that open courts would inhibit witnesses and compromise justice. Are we expected to believe that this isn't a problem in other courts? The reality is that secrecy only protects idle, incompetent and bigoted adults.

    Despite our (minor) differences, Zoompad, who belongs to Mothers for Justice, and I, who belong to Fathers 4 Justice, both recognise that court secrecy must end, and I'm sure she would agree with me that she would rather her dirty laundry was aired in public than that her child should be put at risk.

  6. No. There are many things wrong with the family courts and the secrecy is only one of them. The court is not the right place to deal with most of these cases.

    Opening the courts would not mean that all cases would be publicised – when the New Zealand family courts were opened to the media (in a very limited and controlled way) only a handful of cases was reported in the first year.

    I think we need to get away from just thinking about the media, though. Open courts must admit anyone: public, MPs, academics, etc – anyone who wants to see justice done. It's controversial, but I don't agree with anonymising proceedings and judgements – there is no evidence that children are harmed by being named, and plenty of evidence that they are harmed by secrecy.

    I think parents are far more likely to abuse the secrecy, by making false allegations, for example, than abuse openness.

  7. There was an interesting study recently (can't find the link) on the effectiveness of 'conciliation' which is usually a one-off session conducted in-court by CAFCASS with both parents in a contact dispute. It concluded that conciliation didn't work beyond a short-term effect. It also recommended taking contact disputes out of the legal system and treating them as public health or child welfare issues. I would support this.

    They should also be dealt with swiftly, to prevent the hostility escalating, which turns a domestic quarrel into an intractable case of implacable hostility with false allegations flying and years of litigation.

    I agree that exposing children potentially to publicity or the ridicule of their peers (do kids read the Times law reports?) could increase their torment, but I think it is a matter of weighing one risk against another, and I believe that, on balance, courts should be open to public scrutiny, and the professionals involved should be accountable for their decisions. There also needs to be far more academic access to assess effectiveness of orders, compliance with orders, etc.

    The legislation prevents two things: the publication of information likely to identify a child subject to proceedings, and the access to the courts by those who are not parties or their legal representatives. Both are subject to judicial discretion, which means a judge can open his court or publish a judgement if he wants to. Prosecutions have been brought on the first prohibition (under Section 97, Children Act 1989) but so far as I am aware never successfully.

    The justice minister Jack Straw is due to make a statement nest month. I would expect limited publication of anonymised judgements and some very limited access for accredited journalists to selected cases.

  8. Thanks again Nick for such helpful and clear information.

    I imagine you would think Straw's probable announcment next month
    doesn't really change the situation drastically and would want more
    extensive reform.

    I like the idea of treating contact disputes outside of court, but if
    conciliation doesn't work beyond short term then what are the
    alternatives and who would take responsibility?

    On 22 Oct 2008, at 12:49, “Disqus” <notifications-

  9. Hi “Not Guilty”, thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m starting to understand the complexities of the issues involved. You’ve put forward an emotional response defending the rights of the Father, but it appears to also be a general attack on “selfish and vindictive” mothers. I imagine this is a particularly poignant debate for you, but it would be useful to have some particular examples or statistics to support your statements rather than general slander.

    Do the Police deliberately turn a blind eye to mothers who lie about the father, or is it their practice to take these things at face value? Can you expand on that a little?

  10. http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/FathersNotGuilty/

    It is well know that many women lie to the police to prevent or restrict fathers access to their children. The Police and family courts not only turn a blind eye but their acceptance of this practice only encourages women to keep doing it.

    Fathers are not guilty by default! They are usually the more level headed parent, willing to put the childs interests first and yet they are criminalised by the false accusations of their ex partners.

    It is often the mothers who are breaking the law and putting their childs interests second to their own selfish and vindictive tendancies.

    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/FathersNotGuilty/

  11. As much as I would personally like to go public on this the Law, and in particular, the pressence of a non-mol order deny me the opportunity do legally do so – there are site that this information is published on by third parties ! If the court had been open, as suggested earlier, the allegations were unlikely to have been made. Evidence available to prove innocence was unused in view of the manner it was obtained.

    The poliec have taken two months to take any action-and not entirely through the fault of the officers there understanding of perjury etc is very limited and not deemed of any particular importance in the scale of major crime they have to deal with – it is always easier to penalize a speeding motorist sitting in the car than chase a so-called victim !

    The comments were a universe away from slander in relation to the false and unproven allegations made under oath-and as yet unpunished.

  12. I would be only too please to be able to print names, addresses, photos and a statement with the evidence – unfortunately due to the present law and the existence of a non-mol I cant. That has not stopped third parties from publishing info on this and other cases on the internet. If the courts were open not just to the press but also the general public then many cases of false allegations – this is a universe away from general slander.

    The police took over two months to take any action-and whilst not entirely the fault f the officers-there is little understanding of perjury and it takes a back seat to other crime that is understandable – it is far easier to apprehend a speeding driver in their vehicle as opposed to chase a so-called victim.

    The petition has attracted 166 votes to date – 40% of which are women – this is not just a male problem – mothers daughters and wives suffer to due to the selfish, spiteful and vindictive attitudes of some women – more importantly it is the sons and daughters of the accused who truly suffer.

    These women will never win – they are merely delaying the day of judgement – bestowed upon them by the child who suffered when they are old enough to realize – 16 years of lies – a lifetime of punishment.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-464132/Jailed-waving-daughter.html

  13. open the courts stop injustice

  14. “It is well know that many women lie to the police to prevent or restrict fathers access to their children”

    It is not logical that so many women are lieing to the police maliciously, for no reason at all apart from a desire to be spiteful. Why would anyone want to do this, knowing that they could go to prison for doing so? This statement just sounds like propaganda to me, it makes no sense, if you think about it.

    Women are not a special race apart, made from pure spite. It takes a lot for many women to complain about abuse – many do not make any complaint at all.

    The secret family courts are not about mending relationships – they are about making plenty of money for ruthless greedy law firms. Men and women fight and break up mainly because they have so many problems, and now everyone is scared of being homeless. It's causing massive social problems, but there ruddy courts don't help at all – they just make things even worse!

    As for the day of judgement – come quickly Lord Jesus – there are so many wicked things going on on this sad planet now, and it must be horrible for the Lord to see it. But I don't believe that heaven is just for women – as far as I am concerned, it would not be heaven with no men there, it's for men and women both, and there are plenty of good men, but I do not know what the greedy ones who are causing all the massive problems by driving apart families are going to do when He comes back – hide I expect.

  15. Just to add a comment , I was in care for 6 years,in the staffordshire area, from 1973 till 1979.
    One of the care homes i was in for about 7 months, was Chadswell Assessment Centre, Lichfield . The care I was given there was never anything but good. I was never ill treated, or abused in any way. The home was split into two seperate buildings, one for girls and one for boys, with a large playing feild in between.
    No children were ever left with a member of the opersit sex.
    The staff were careing, even loving, the the home was a difficult place to be in, they made it as comfortable as they could.
    & for children like me, who came from a troubled home, it was the best we could wish for.

  16. I would love to print out correspondence between myself and Government ministers here, I think that people would find them very informative and enlightening. I have been arguing for some time that the secret family courts are creaming off taxpayers money in one big almighty scam, and that families caught up in this scandal, men women and children, are ALL the victims! It really is all about money, not women being decieteful and spiteful, it is a big scam and I can prove it!

  17. I was in chadswell assesment centre a few times…1st time at the age of just 13…never been in care before…what a shock it was to me..having to shower in front of staff having them put toothpaste on my brush and spray my under arms with deodorant..wearing their clothes and not my own..waxing all the floors on hands and knees…having to show your first sanitary towel every month to prove you had come on…all these things degrading especially to a child..i will say that a few of the staff were nice and friendly but some werent…especially the deputy head..i had keys thrown at me at one point off him for coughing at night when i was ill..and they were supposed to be taking care of me..i had a lot of friends there and it was fun to meet up with the boys on the odd evening…..friday picture shows were the worst..while case conferences were on…so so so boring educational films..i was in care till i was nearly 18 and must say that chadswell was the worst one i was in…but on a positive note…i wouldnt be the person i am today had i not been in care..i could have ended up a lot worse..and i know that some children did.

    • Amanda Critchley 9 December 2014 at 11:54 pm

      you ar so right about the sanitary towel and as for some who say it was comfortable for them there it wasn’t for me in solitary confinement, physical , sexual I still have nightmares thinking iv been sent back there im 48 years old now.

  18. I was totally captivated from the moment my date stood up to greet me. He was definitely pleasant to look at and he kissed blind date uncensored my hand softly when he said hello.

  19. i ended up in chadswell also..twice.1st time for being a problem child they said and 2nd to keep me safe.wot a joke.it was a hell hole.i remember a few of the staff.some nice and some cruel.and i also share the same memories as you regarding showers, sanitary towels, a tiny amount of shampoo in a plastic container type tub. apparantly we wasnt allowed glass incase we cut ourselves.do you also remember the cell.i spent many a night there.can you remember the walks into town thro the hospital.we used to pinch the cherrys off the trees.lol.can you remember the cuddly toys we had to sew and being allowed to take in our jeans they gave us cos they were flared.skinny jeans were all the rage then..i have mixed memories of the place.more bad than good i have to say tho..i wil never forget chadswell and would love to hear from other people who share our memories.i have turned out ok also in the long run but have had probs along the way but am a tough old cookie.i had to be to survive.

    • Hi Mandie hope you are well. Yes Chadswells was a shithole and the staff were bullies. Was in there in 1980 and will never forget those tossers! ! When we’re you there & can you remember the headmasters name ? Take care Mand & good luck for the future. Andy.

  20. i to was aprisoner at chadswell around the time you refer to.but your discripion is wrong there were to houses [boys] and [girls] what lay between theses houses was not a lush green lawn were happy children happerly frolic your discripion is wrong i say this in confidence your lawn was in fact a tarmac five aside court witch i and another inmate were made to scrub on are hands and knees while snow was on the ground why because we were forced to do thing we did not want to do but the warden made us then punished for not making effort and wasting is time i find your story amusesing how can you state staff were careing they took pleasure belittling controling inflicting mental and emotional pain on vunrable children was your daddy one of these people and you feel the need to deffend him.?

  21. Hi Keith, First, I must point out that I at no point mentioned a lawn, I said 'Playing feild' ( a in an area) as we used to play sports on there, Yes it could well have been made of tarmac.
    Re your comment about my farther, he sadly passed away when I was 7, if not, I might not have been taken into care in the first place.

    There were some very troubled children in the home, that no matter what kindness they were shown , were still bitter, spite full, badly behaved & unruly. I can not say how they were treated, or how they perceived the world in their troubled minds.

  22. i too was made to scrub the tarmac at chads-well in short trousers two sizes too small in the snow. i spent many days and weeks locked up in one of two cells.i can remember hearing girls screaming at night. i ended up going to borstal from chadswell.. Nothing sexual happened to me but i am not surprised to hear that it went on. My lasting memory of chadswell was spending nearly every other walking around the large pool near litchfield cathedral or indeed in the cathederal. Mind you one at least one of the bastards used to let us smoke. Were we allowed five cigs a day in the day room or is my memory playing tricks on me. Went to stoke crown court with two other guys in 76 and i am sure one had the last name taylor. Just happened acros this article.

    • Amanda Critchley 10 December 2014 at 12:04 am

      I was one of those girls screaming at night screaming out of sheer terror I was also made too scrub the floor and playground until my knees bled also many other areas of abuse how can that person say those things she is worse than the abusers in my eyes how cruel and heartless.

  23. hi graham nice to read your comment,s are you sure they were trousers only the srews did make inmates to wear shorts as punishment somtimes for weeks.yes i to spent afew unplesent nights in the cells at the end of the landing but before i was allowed out i was taken into adoorm told to drop my pj bottoms and bend over abed i was restraind from moving then the deputyhead gave me six of the best across my arse it recked .then made to wear shorts for weeks even to church on sundays then around the pool witch was called stowey graham you must of bein fifteen to be allowed to smoke myself i was forteen on my first stay then sent D.C but the lad i was at court with did go to borstal i think he came from bucknal his name i think was stephen griffes (BIFFO) funny lad did inpressions f1 cars went back at fifteen there i stayed in the biggest shithole iam the last one of 227 cliams against these pricks i wont settle for money i want asorry and to be judged i know and i hope that the people who have lied minulated and forced victims of abuse to exsept pettence for wrongs committed by uncaring vile people then abused agained alot of victims they deaserve every penny they get.But these victims need s are much more inportent than money they need help to understand the damage done to them as a child and the inportence of comming to terms and how critticull it is to address and be judged i shell try to bring atenion through my case these people not only destroyed children they tore familys apart so who ever reads this blog and can relate to what i state get typing and lets see what we can acheive together

    • Nice one Keith, couldn’t agree more ? Take care mate. Chadswell s ay, wot a shit hole that was. Remember Necky Barr the Bully ?

  24. please exsept my apology ijust find it hard to exsept your discripion when every one elses acount to there time spent at chadswell.Is the same it just seams strange why you were treated so diffrent. CHADSWELL was for children who the council had difficulty incontroling i was sent there because i kept obsconding what was you sent there for.The playing feilds were out side the home iwas contained at the populars childrens as well and the playingfeild was located in between the homes

    • Hi Keith, not sure if you are the guy I am thinking of but if you are, you got away from Norton and ended up going back again after a stay at Chadswell. Im really not sure about some of the comments on here about abuse as I have no recollection of anything like that. We mingled with the girls on occasion in a rec room and nobody mention anythin like that. Only abuse I got was when I absconded and McGuire gave me a few tastes of his cane….smarted a bit!!!

  25. Hi everyone and thank you for all your comments. I'm afraid that I'm unable to personally contribute to this discussion on Chadswell Assessment Centre and the experiences that you all had there. I am glad though, that this post has given an opportunity to share your opinions.

    • I remember a man called Jon Jolly from Norton. It cant be you as you are too young but is he any relation to you. He was the best guy I could of been mentored by and I wish I could meet him again. He was a rock for me and got me through a difficult time in my youth. He often played badminton and table tennis with me but the best thing was that he took me out at times and we went bottle collecting. I often recall the fun we had, even though I seemed to do most of the digging ( not sure whether anyone from Norton knew that we were bottle collecting though ) Anyway, if you could respond I would be very grateful. Thx in advance

  26. jon jolly why? and thank you people should talk

  27. My apologies Keith, I obviously wasn't clear in my statement. It's not that I refuse to share my opinion, but rather that I have never been to Chadswell and feel rather ignorant on the subject!

  28. Hi Keith. Not sure why I am writing this, but feel it may be helpful to me in coming to terms with my time spent at Chadswell Assessment Centre (not a good experience). I pleaded with the courts to remove me from home because of my abusive physical & abusive mother. I got sent to Chadswell. I clearly remember the yard between boys/girls and the humiliation I endured has never left me. I seemed to go from one bully at home (mother), to be replaced by girls and staff at Chadswell. I was there about 1971/72 for 12 weeks, then transferred to Rowley Park at Stafford. I noticed no one on this website has mentioned Rowley Park, but it was common to be sent onto there.
    If nothing else I want to thank you for letting me get this out at last, and to say I still have no relationship with my mother (her choice) but have gone on to become a more confident person.
    Thanks for listening. Jo

    • Hi I know of Rowley park I know girls who were sent there I do know they were sedated in the locked up rooms and cells and were sexually abused in there, they tried too sedate me in Riverside but I escaped Mr Watson tried too catch me but I outrun him and never went back from then on that was the last time I had too endure there and Chadswell.

  29. I was in Rowley Park in the 70s and loved the place . however was then taken to Riverside in the 80s for running away it was hell I was upstars and was abused at night taken down to the cells . I want back there this summer it is written above the door “Nisi dominus custodierit domum Frustra Vigilat qui custodit eam “ this is taken from victor Hugo and translated The Bishop touched his shoulder, with gentle gravity, and said to him, “Nisi Dominus custodierit domum, in vanum vigilant qui custodiunt eam,” Unless the Lord guard the house, in vain do they watch who guard it. There was no guard we were never protected I’m 39 now and still flashback to the past. Yes some did come forward for the money but please don’t judge them I’m guessing they are in a living hell.

    Steve Guest

  30. Hi jobjenke ( j,j ) sorry its taken awhile to reply.It a difcult time at the moment for me, your d
    iscription of chadswell is atrue disciption of what vunrable children were exsposed to on a daily basis.J.j i was sent to rotherwood at the beging of my sentence and i belive rowley park (hall) was just up the road from there, there were times when staff from rotherwood were called for to assist with incedences what these were ican not say but the way they were responded to gave the inpression they were seriouse.J.j was,nt rowley park (hall) a girl only home? Iam surprised to read you became amore confident person u were lucky most victims left these places brocken and vunrable unable to cope either becoming abusers themselfs or are forced in to taking drugs or becoming alcolic,s to escape the troubles they carnt understand.But what is very distubing is the role the govement has and still is doing denie,ing .SO MANY THOUSANDS OF DAMAGED ADULT,S SOME DEGREE OF A NORMAL LIFE. Not so long back the then goverment publicly apoligised to agroup of adults who were abused oversea,s WHAT ABOUT US?,j.j i hope writting your thoughts down as allowed you to move forward in peace as formyself i still suffer from the effects of my abusers but iam not ready to lie down just yet and will fight for my right to be heard what ever the price may be thanks for writting j.j all the best keith

  31. Hello Keith,

    First let me thank you for your email. It sounds like you have been, and
    continue to go through a tough time. I am truly sorry and understand the
    hurt, anger and frustration you feel.

    I know I managed to change some areas in my life, but it was a very hard
    process. My first step was to find the courage to tell my mother I did not
    want/need her in my life. Hopefully I can explain this in more detail in
    another email. My main purpose today is to respond to you as I did not want
    you to think I had ignored your first email. I was quite ill last week and
    was unable to go on computer.

    I will email again in more detail later today.

    Yours sincerely

    Jo

  32. Hi Keith this is Jo again

    I assume that is your real name; and it is good to have heard from you.

    Within six months of leaving Rowley Park I was contacted by a member of
    staff (the gardener); to this day I do not know how he got my address! He
    actually turned up at my home. He started contacting my brother and his
    wife. To stop them having the hassle, and to find out how he got my contact
    details I agreed to see him. It was awful and he tried to do something
    ‘sexually perverted’ to me. I felt very scared all over again. So I can
    honestly say have been abused in more than one way. It has left scars and
    at times I want to shut myself away and hide. Even writing this brings back
    the feeling of anger, being scared and lonely.

    How are you coping with your experiences?

    Regards

    Jo

    • Hello Jo,

      Thank you for the courage to write and share this – I can only imagine the pain you have suffered.

      As the owner of this website, I just want to remind you that comments you make here (or via email reply) are public and can be read by anyone. If you did not intend to share this publicly, please respond and I will edit or remove them for you.

      Jon

      • Thanks for your response and in this instance I am ok with it being online,
        after all it is the truth.
        Jo B

  33. Excellent site, glad I found it ? About time THE TRUTH CAME OUT !! Keep it coming folks and let’s GRIND THE BASTARDS DOWNING !!

  34. Excellent site, glad I found it. About time the TRUTH CAME OUT ! ! KEEP IT COMING FOLKS AND LET’S GRIND THE BASTARDS DOWN ? All the best, Andy..

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