A majority of family law courts in England are failing to meet the 26 week target for care cases to completed, new figures have revealed.
According to statistics recently released by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), 29 of the 42 court areas have been unable to complete care cases in less than six months. This number represents 70.7 per cent of areas.
Six areas took substantially longer than the rest of the country. Taunton, which took an average of 41 weeks, had the longest time. Central London, West London, Sheffield, Coventry and Watford all had an average of 39 weeks.
Cafcass, which is part of the Ministry of Justice, found that nationally, the family courts took an average of 31 weeks to complete proceedings. This has fallen since the end of last year when the national average was 33 weeks.
Anthony Douglas, chief executive of Cafcass, said the drop in the national average showed progress was being made.
“Intensive work continues in those local areas with the highest durations, to understand the root causes of delay and to take effective multi-agency action”.
There were 12 areas which met the target. The fastest of these was Truro, which had an average of 17 weeks to complete care proceedings.
The 26 week target was introduced as part of the Children and Families Act 2014, and became law in April.
Photo by Alwyn Ladell via Flickr