A family of travellers will be supervised by social workers for an additional six months, the High Court has ruled.
The case concerned three children, aged two, four and nine. Their family had been involved with social services and the family courts for some time.
In the Family Division of the High Court, Mr Justice Mostyn explained:
“… the standards of parenting of this family, who come from the travelling community, is certainly not to the same standards as one would expect from a conventional nuclear family.”
The family’s parenting style had been “robust” and “delegated”, he claimed, adding:
“However, I have always been strongly of the view that tolerance must be shown, in a spirit of diversity, to the traditions of different communities.”
Then last year a social worker allocated to the family reported “events and incidents”, not specified in the judgement, “which take the matter beyond robustness into the realm of neglect”.
The social worker urged the local authority to launch care proceedings, but her bosses in the children’s services department preferred to hold off and continue working with the family which they believed was making “broadly satisfactory”.
The council therefore applied for a supervision order, allowing the family’s situation and progress to be closely monitored. This was granted and the authority then applied for a six month extension.
The Judge noted that he could not launch care proceedings without an application from the council.
“But I am with the local authority on the plan that they have adopted.”
He warned the parents that they must be on their best behaviour during the period of supervision by social workers.
“Mr. D and Ms. C must understand very clearly that even though the court is tolerant of their different traditions, their fundamental obligation is to care properly for their children and they must do so.”
The supervision would continue until December, he ruled.
A Local Authority v D & Others can be read here.
Image by Dave Collier via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence