Launch of the Public Law Working Group’s Final Report
Practitioners and professionals working in the English and Welsh family justice systems are invited to join a free online event to mark the publication of the final report of the President of the Family Division’s Public Law Working Group (PLWG). The event will be held via Zoom, 10.30am – 12pm on Tuesday 9 March 2021.
At the end of 2018 Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division, initiated a sector-led review of the family justice system in response to sustained increases in activity, growing regional variation and concerns about the wellbeing of everyone working in the system. Two groups were formed to look at private and public law. The private law report published in April 2020 but the pandemic severely delayed the public law report, although this has allowed some of the recommended actions to be completed.
Building an understanding of whether children and young people can be safely diverted away from becoming subjects of public law proceedings, and the timeliness of decisions once they are subject to proceedings were the starting points for the public law group. Representatives from all parts of the sector as well as other key stakeholder groups were involved in this work.
The final report identifies issues and challenges and includes a suite of resources and tools to assist practitioners in an attempt to address some of this variation, which can often be cultural or as a result of accepted local custom and practice. These tools include new best practice guidance, advice from children and young people to practitioners plus templates and forms. A series of recommendations for longer-term change, largely aimed at government, are also put forward. The child’s voice and their wellbeing are key themes throughout as is partnership working and achieving cultural change. This work pre-dates the pandemic but it is being integrated into national recovery planning efforts.
In first half of the event delegates will hear the President talk about the drivers for the review and from Mr Justice Keehan, who led the public law aspect of the review, plus Jenny Coles, ADCS President, about confidence in local authority practice. In the second half delegates will have the opportunity to put questions to a panel of senior leaders from across the English and Welsh family justice systems about to collectively turn the report into a reality.
10.30am – Welcome and scene setting – Jenny Coles, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS)
10.40am – Keynote speech (1) – Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division
10.55am – Keynote speech (2) – Mr Justice Keehan, Chair of the PLWG
11.10am – Panel discussion chaired by Jenny Coles:
- Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division
- Mr Justice Keehan, Chair of the PLWG
- Jacky Tiotto, Chief Executive, Cafcass
- Nigel Brown, Chief Executive Cafcass Cymru
- Helen Lincoln, Director of Children’s Services, Essex County Council
- Sally-Ann Jenkins, Head of Children’s and Families Services, Newport City Council
- Yvette Stanley, National Director, Early Years Regulation & Social Care, Ofsted
- Isabelle Trowler, Chief Social Worker for England (Children and Families).
11.55am – Closing remarks, Jenny Coles
12pm – Event ends.
Booking form – https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/PLWGlauch
The closing date for bookings is lunchtime on Friday 5 March. A link to the report will be shared with registered delegates as part of the joining instructions.