We publish here the third volume of reports for 2015, bringing to over 300 the number of reports published since the first volume in 2013. This will also be the final volume of this phase of the work of the Child Care Law Reporting Project, where the reports reflect the totality of what happens in the child protection courts. In future we will be focusing on the more difficult and complex cases, rather than including routine reviews of Care Orders and renewals of Interim Care Orders.

This volume illustrates many of the themes of its predecessors. Neglect continues to be a major factor in the Child and Family Agency seeking Care Orders, and we publish here a number of cases revealing instances of severe neglect. Abuse and assault also feature, as do cultural and religious issues, with Muslim parents whose children are in care seeking appropriate education to be provided. The impact of abuse on neglect on children is revealed in a number of poignant stories, with one young boy wishing his mother was dead so that the problems he experienced would be over “once and for all”.

The reports also show that the courts do not always grant the CFA the orders it seeks, and often propose more nuanced solutions. A young drug abuser, herself the daughter of a drug addict, was given a chance to be reunited with her baby if she succeeded in overcoming her dependence on drugs. In a number of cases short Care Orders were granted in order to allow the parents overcome their problems and seek reunification with their children.

The courts also occasionally refuse to grant the CFA the orders they seek. This occurred in one case where there had been an Interim Care Order, which the CFA sought to renew, but the judge refused after hearing evidence that the mother suffered from mental health problems and had withdrawn here allegations of violence on the part of her husband. The social services in the city in which the family lived, prior to the mother coming to the attention of social services in another city, had no concerns about the father, the court heard.