Cafcass report ‘betrayed the trust’ of fathers (update)

family life

Campaigning charity Families Need Fathers (FNF) has condemned last week’s joint report by Cafcass and Women’s Aid as ‘betraying the trust’ of fathers.

The report claimed that no less than 62 per cent of all applications to the courts regarding arrangements for children feature allegations of domestic violence. The figure was based on an analysis of 216 cases.

However FNF have claimed that allowing Women’s Aid to examine the case files in question was “extraordinary” and disappointing. The resulting report made no attempt to include “balancing views regarding the widespread abuse of men and boys in the context of the family courts”.

FNF insist:

“The biggest issue is the ‘perception’ of bias. CAFCASS is a Government agency while Women’s Aid campaigns for recognition that ‘Domestic violence and abuse is a devastating form of violence against women and girls’. Understandably given their remit, Women’s Aid is not an obvious advocate for the experience of men and boys who are also victims of abuse – including the deliberate making of unfounded allegations against fathers in the context of family disputes.”

The report’s focus on allegations rather than proven cases was also problematic continued FNF. Father’s rights campaigners have worked to draw attention to the problem of unfounded allegations of domestic violence being made in order to obtain legal aid the charity alleged, and there was often little to no penalty for fabricated claims.

“Increasingly, the absurd notion of on the one side requiring the acceptance of any allegations by women as true, regardless of evidence, and at the same time promoting the belief that fathers are too dangerous to be trusted with their own children, is severely undermining today’s political agenda. The result of such malicious, unfounded allegations has been that thousands of children each year have been denied time with their much loved dads for many months, in many cases leading to the permanent loss of a good and loving parent.”

FNF called on Cafcass to become a calming influence and avoid “fuelling gender-based conflict.”

UPDATE: Cafcass contacted the Marilyn Stowe Blog with the following statement:

“Cafcass undertook this work with Women’s Aid following the release of their Nineteen Child Homicides report and recommendations for the family justice system.

Contrary to what is stated in the FNF (press) release, at no point have we ever opened confidential case files to Women’s Aid. The report makes clear that data was collected by members of Cafcass’ policy team and a National Improvement Service manager. No confidential or identifiable information was shared with Women’s Aid in the course of this research.

The report is gender-neutral, with the data showing where allegations of domestic abuse have been made by men and women. We meet regularly with Families Need Fathers and Men’s Aid and are even-handed when working with organisations who focus on the needs of particular groups. We have always recognised that men can be victims of domestic abuse.

The study explores the nature of domestic abuse allegations within the family court, particularly how this can affect children. It was not designed to make findings on allegations of domestic abuse, but to capture their prevalence, how these cases were assessed and outcomes. The research illustrates the complexity of responding to allegations within proceedings. We hope the report can act as a platform from which we and others can further understand and define the issues, and we encourage further research on this.”

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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40 comments

Lynne - August 1, 2017 at 7:46am

There is no doubt that Womens Aid have and do provide a remarkable service of huge value to the women who reach out to them. BUT they offer aid for women, not aid for parents, men or indeed children. It is high time that the valid comments in the article were heard; Womens Aid are a funded organisation who should be acting in the best interests of their service users, without using gender politics to promote their agenda. Reports issued are usually issued using the statistics that suit, with no care for either reality or truth. There has to be room in humanity for support of all those who face the life changing experience of domestic violence, without the need for the insidious creeping destruction of those who do not fall within their remit. Do they forget that many women (some of whom have suffered abuse) also have fathers, sons, brothers and grandchildren?

Paul Massey - August 1, 2017 at 6:13pm

hear, hear, Lynne. What men want in the family courts in the first bit of the 21st century is no different in principle to what women were looking for a century ago – a voice, to be treated equally, and the banishing of gender-stereotyping.

Also, in these days of divorces and separations, there are many women who are having relationships with divorced men that are being denied contact by their ex wives for entirely fabricated reasons. I know those women feel our pain – the most common reaction I get from my female friends is “I just don’t understand how any loving mother could do that…”. that is quite instructive.

I don’t know but I expect that the suffragettes needed lots of support from sympathetic men…Now we are after some interest on our investment! Thank you for your non-partisan contribution – that really is all we ask.

Andy - August 1, 2017 at 7:47am

So the report by Women’s Aid and Cafcas give as expected a typical blame on the Father or partner…
If we look at the true reality of these so called experts is or would it not be true that a percentage of these so called experts are divorced themselves with of course big chips on there shoulders…of course who is bank rolling these so called agencies..either MUMS NET OR GINGER BREAD..
As they get government hangouts…

Now correct me if I am wrong but such statements on report such as this and pointed out by FNF just show how incompetent the experts are…
So is the fact that all ex partners are abusers or just that they use this law as ammunition to justify this report..
So when will a one sided report by FNF be conducted to high light obstructive and tactic’s steps by the Mother to gain financial support and of course court support..
Just do a one sided report to ex fathers and I’m sure you will see a different side…of course you will, but it will paint a big true picture…

Helen Lloyd Jones - August 1, 2017 at 8:49am

Great respect for the work that Women’s Aid does to help women. Just wish they would accept that men can be victims too.

Their position with respect to men is so biased there is no way they should have been involved with CAFCASS on this issue. Research should always be carried out by open minded organisations; the Tavistock Institute, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation for example.

Sadly this report does not help raise the confidence of fathers in the neutrality of CAFCASS

And sadly, does not help the mothers we know whose children are being alienated against them.

Parental alienation does happen. Simply because children tend to live with their mothers, it is usually the father that is alienated. But mothers too can find themselves alienated from their children

The long term emotional damage it does to the child is appalling.

CAFCASS must restore fathers faith in the organisation and it must reach out and ensure early intervention to prevent children suffer from parental alienation

Peter - August 1, 2017 at 9:38am

Cafcass was one sided when my ex took my son didn’t know where she had gone there was no volience what so ever she left me for another man and she did not want me to have contact with my son it was the worst time of my life. We went to a meeting the Cafcass women had a disgusting aproach on the situation she was all for my ex.she wanted to leave with out me haveing any contact with my son I told her I was not leaveing thus room until I get to see my son never met such a one sided person what cafcass need to understand that both the parents love there children it should be half custody no arguments then. There also with cafcass should also be two of them one man one women to make it fair that what I think they cafcass that I had was a nightmare I reported her she would not asswer her phone to me and I was very polite to her .

Gary Carhart - August 1, 2017 at 10:29am

Normal for Cafcass. Refuses evidence that would support non residents case, to decide in favour if residents, based on personal opinion

Steven Wade - August 1, 2017 at 11:43am

I would say `amazing’…but it’s not.

Picture the scene. You’re a dad whose ex partner has left without a warning and gone into a refuge owned by Women’s Aid. You’ve later received notification that an ex parte occupation order and non molestation order has been made against you, with a McKenzie Friend who was provided by Women’s Aid. At your inter parte hearing this McKenzie Friend will be there again (if there isn’t a Legal Aid funded one) – or as a support worker who is allowed to sit in the court.

When the inevitable Section 7 Report is done by CAFCASS (who as we can see work VERY closely with Women’s Aid) you’ll be entirely sure that it’ll be done without any kind of agenda won’t you?

Make sure you avoid low flying pigs when you walk out of the court building after the report seems biased, prejudiced and entirely mum-focused and your children are clearly an afterthought.

Paul Massey - August 1, 2017 at 10:13pm

what is the point AT ALL of ‘wishes and feelings’ reports in high conflict/PA cases (Parental Alienation)?

First: Kirk Weir amongst many others has already highlighted the “extreme unreliability” of kids’ wishes and feelings

Second – see the judgement of Parker J (Now lady justice Parker) in re H. cafcASS officers are totally biased, and not too bright (FEEL the frustration bubbling and festering just under the surface of Parker J’s judgement where she talks about social workers); She also makes the point that the Act refers to the child’s ‘ascertainable’ wishes and feelings – the point being that you have to ASCERTAIN – social workers demonstrate absolutely NO perspicacity – no hard questions are asked, only those that support the idea that child stays with mother. cafcASS are biased and depressingly ignorant of PA. they have a so-called Parental Conflict Tool, but they do not use it at all, or, if they do, show an offensively poor understanding of the principles involved. Are they biased in favour of women? Well, I like to say biased in favour of resident parents, and, unjustly, that is almost always the mother. And, from the way they co-operated here ONLY with a women’s group shows not just arrant stupidity but really does betray a pretty egregious gender bias, doesn’t it? If they were just incompetent, they could argue that this was an oversight. yes, they might say, they should have canvassed opinions/worked with a broader range of interested groups, they just kinda forgot…Or they knew perfectly well what the outcome of a particular collaboration was going to be.. .that’s why they set it up like that..It is hard to escape the conclusion that cafcASS is INSTITUTIONALLY GENDER-BIASED…

Third – the paramountcy principle. many, many court of appeal cases repeat that it is not about what the child says he wants, nor even about what he ACTUALLY wants, but what is in his best interests. And all sides SEEM to agree (and indeed the Act says this) that a child’S BEST INTERESTS ARE SERVED witha dad in his life. But we’re only paying lip service to that, aren’t we?

It’s time to end wishes and feelings reports. they give too much power (and indeed responsibility) in high conflict cases to the child who is inappropriately empowered by the alienator, and the child is already of course “recruited” – by this point the child knows exactly what to do and say in order to survive the wrath and tyranny of the alienator. “Wishes and Feelings” reports are unreliable, and moot, given the paramountcy principle.

Finally, lets get rid of the ‘no order’ principle. this says to the judge “if in doubt do now’t”. super harmful in this kind of case – maybe not in others but high conflict/intractable contact disputes MUST be managed aggressively by the courts (in contrast, perhaps, to the way in which the courts should deal with other kids’ matters). the first thing you need is a fact-finding hearing – get the evidence heard, EARLY.

PS – whilst we’re at it let us get, enshrined in law, a rebuttable presumption that kids spend half of the time with each parent. there is a similar rule where money is concerned (White v White, a HL case), so, unless we think money is more important than kids, let get this rule in place NOW for dividing the child-temporal as well as financial aspects of a relationship (apologies for a very ugly sentence). the Tories could have inserted this into the CA 89 but left it vague – a chance was missed there (see Caroline Noakes on this plus the FFJ comments on her involvement).

PPS – Parental Alienation is a crime in several countries – let’s make it a criminal offence in all countries (and how about an actionable tort whilst were at it – this is the most disgusting hate crime, and is always a feature of any case where false allegations are made by the resident parent);

PPPS I for one am a little bored with courts and solicitors and barristers telling LIPs (Litigants in Person) that we clog up the system and use up too much court time…’cause, yeah, the systems works so brilliantly with lawyers, right? Read cases like re A and Re S for the truly shameful delays this country’s legal system is guilty of. In “A” alone, the case went on for, count them, 12 YEARS. In the last 6 years alone there were 80 court applications, i think. the court of appeal was so embarrassed that it recommended dad to start a case under Art 8 EHCR for breaching Dad’s right to a family life with his child!

What a joke. What a mess.

so much to do….

Anne - August 1, 2017 at 1:09pm

Another area of discrimination for men and boys. Where are the EHRC are they not seeing what’s happening. Or have they embraced the feminists agenda.

I remember in the good old days when they represented minority groups.
Now it seems overwhelming majorities pay a major role in who they support.

Paul - August 1, 2017 at 1:29pm

Why won’t CAFCAS include FNF or FFJ when compiling these reports ? – The figure of 62% I think has been tonned down to avoid critasism. The amount of anicdotal evidence I have read. The situation is much worse than 62%. I bet if FNF looked at the figures there would be a more damning statistics than that. Seems to me if you leave you expartner you get a DV conviction thrown in for good measure. Evidence ? Whats that ? Just take your conviction an stop moaning.

Stitchedup - August 1, 2017 at 4:45pm

“The figure of 62% I think has been tonned down to avoid critasism.” I was thinking the same Paul. Just about every man I speak to going through divorce / separation, or having been through it, has been accused of abuse and has either had an order slapped on them or has been threatened with one. I put this to a solicitor I know and he told me that it’s just another weapon in the arsenal and has nothing to do with genuine abuse or protection. Women’s Aid are a feminist political organisation, anything they say should be taken with an extremely large pinch of salt. Unfortunately they have a monopoly on domestic abuse training for local authorities and other agencies. The system is rotten to the core and is positively designed to deliver gross injustice to men/fathers and favour women/mothers.

Dean - August 1, 2017 at 4:31pm

This speaks volumes to the gender bias so rampant in family law, particularly regarding child arrangement orders.
The amount of non residential parents I have spoken to that feel wronged by the lack of scrutiny given to thier accusers is deeply concerning. My experience of CAFCASS is that my worker is biased and malicious, CAFCASS regulate thier own complaints and recourse against them is near impossible.

The biggest issue with family law is with allocation, in my humble opinion ANY allegations that belongs to the jurisdiction of criminal justice system should be tried in that arena. It should not be heard by part time lay Justices they are not up to the task and lack experience to exercise any judical perogative.

Not only this but the social narrative surround DV is very much guilty until proven innocent and lay Justices almost always err in the side of caution even in the face of significant evidence.

The FJ system is better suited to an Orwellian dystopia than a civilised nation such as ours and does not represent the vast majority of societies views on co parenting and gender impartiality.

Stitchedup - August 3, 2017 at 4:50pm

“The biggest issue with family law is with allocation, in my humble opinion ANY allegations that belongs to the jurisdiction of criminal justice system should be tried in that arena. It should not be heard by part time lay Justices they are not up to the task and lack experience to exercise any judical perogative.

Not only this but the social narrative surround DV is very much guilty until proven innocent and lay Justices almost always err in the side of caution even in the face of significant evidence.”

You are right but it’s not just a problem with the family courts and lay justices. All judges err on the side of caution and dish out non-mols like smarties. Often a breach of non mol will be heard by a district judge which is the worst case scenario. They don’t have a commonsensical perception of reasonable excuse and will convict men for petty, benign breaches even when there’s clear evidence of provocation or, in the cases of a non-communication order, the so called victim having initiated communication. It’s worst than absurd, it’s absolutely repugnant. It’s hardly surprising our prisons are full to the brim and boiling over, I dread to think of how many men/fathers are in prison who frankly shouldn’t be there.

Andre - August 1, 2017 at 4:47pm

This is only now news?
Cafcass have being doing this for years.
I personally know of a case where the mother and father have been separated for 8 years:
– the mother repeatedly tries to speak to the father
– even if he looks ate her she calls the police
– over 20 false allegations reported to 5 different constabularies

Now Cafcass has advised the court the father should do a build a better relationship course so he can improve relations with the ex he dumped 8 years ago!

The county court judge at Guildford bizarrely agreed and ordered him to do it.

Nick Langford - August 1, 2017 at 7:49pm

The really worrying thing is that CAFCASS simply don’t get it. They can’t see why FNF and other fathers’ groups should object to this report; they even try to persuade FNF that they are working with FNF, when clearly they are not working with them in anything like the same way as they are working with Women’s Aid. CAFCASS have a statutory obligation to be neutral and to represent the interests not of mothers, not of fathers, but of children. They cannot do that independently or credibly if they are working so closely with an organisation which regards children as the property of their mothers, and child abuse as merely the fallout from male assaults on women. This represents a massive error of judgement by Anthony Douglas, and if he can’t see it, he should be removed.

Male Abuse Victim Denied Contact on False Accusation - August 1, 2017 at 10:36pm

When did CAFCASS last meet an organisation such as Families Need Fathers or Men’s Aid SPECIFICALLY to discuss the issues covered in this report? Did CAFCASS invite such groups to add their input to this report? I assume there was at least a reasonable consultation period?

Has this report done anything more than establish that false accusations are commonly used to obstruct meaningful contact between parent and child following relationship breakdown?

Where the report refers to ‘other safeguarding risks’, is it possible that the report has demonstrated that where false accusations of abusive behaviour are made, other false allegations are also made? That mud is thrown? That accusations and character assassination is commonplace? Perhaps we need look no further than [names removed] to see that the penalties, for what should be considered massively harmful acts, go pretty much unpunished when compared to the penalties for the same actions (perjury, slander, libel, perverting the course of public justice) when seen in other areas of law. What’s to lose?

And what of the outcome? Burden of proof? Beyond all reasonable doubt? How many of the accusations are found to be valid, and to what standard? To a criminal law standard? Or because somebody takes a dislike to the parent angered at having suddenly been removed from the lives of much loved children on the basis of massively defamatory and untrue suggestion by their former partner. Their former partner who may have been abusive throughout the relationship and now continues to abuse, to harm, to control, to demean, to crush, irrespective of the impact on the children.

216 cases? Who selected those cases? What was the brief when deciding which cases should feature in that list of 216? Were the cases truly picked at random, or cherry picked?

40 cases? And again, same question. No mention of those 40 cases having been chosen at random.

Let’s take this further. The CPS have previously advised it’s prosecutors about male under-reporting of abuse and the false reporting of abuse by women to gain vantage in custody matters. Does it get a mention? That maybe, just maybe, false accusations are rife?

When Legal Aid was removed, non-molestation orders soared. Why? Because suddenly somebody going through the family court could get legal aid. In some areas, that went up 1000% and is more than a little suggestive hint that people will lie to keep control of their kids – including the making of false accusations. What account has been taken of this?

But no, no. The report is clear in that contains the wishes and feelings of the child. These can’t be false accusations. The children’s wishes and feelings support the suggestion that there must have been abuse. Those same wishes and feelings that as would be standard practice were likely stated in the presence of a parent who may have been manipulating them to support whatever false accusation had been made. Or maybe that doesn’t happen. Oh silly me, this is the real world – OF COURSE IT HAPPENS. Sadly, I know it happens.

Does nobody ever stop to consider that it could be the accused, and possibly even the convicted, who are the victims?

I don’t really know what this report has achieved. There are real victims, false victims, rightly accused, innocent accused. These are massive issues. Kids can be speaking their own mind. Kids can cut off their own noses to support the more influential parent. So what does this report tell us?

This report tells us that a supposedly gender neutral, impartial tax funded organisation has jumped into bed with an organisation that has absolutely no commitment to gender neutrality and seemingly now has an expertise on matters in the family court that CAFCASS feel the need to draw on whilst failing to bring numerous other far more relevant groups to the table. There’s still time? Perhaps if CAFCASS are as genuine as they might want people to believe, now would be a good time to invite some of those they missed to the table and to report on the outcome.
(*Comment moderated)

Richard MA - August 2, 2017 at 11:54am

Speaking on behal of Men’s Adi we were excluded from this study. CAFCASS come and see us about once a year as key stakeholders. They present a slide show of flow charts and disappear into the distance. I have written a critque of this piece expressing MA concerns with this lates piece of spurious reportage.

CONCERNS REGARDING THE CONTENT OF THE REPORT
The origins of the data
The data is not raw. It is derived after interpretation by CAFCASS. In 2010 a special parliamentary select committee headed by the Right. Hon. Margaret Hodge MP found that CAFCASS ‘do not make child based decisions’ and are ‘unfit for purpose’ after failing eight out of ten points tested by Ofsted. The following year 2011 they failed again on eight out of ten points tested and a second select committee found that they ‘are beyond reform’ and ‘should be abolished.’ Clearly they have not been abolished and we are now confronted with their version of reform which we have already been told is impossible. CAFCASS have never, of course, been given a clean bill of health or been declared ‘fit for purpose’ and have simply faced less scrutiny although they continue to fail annually at a regional level when tested by Ofsted. Only the select committees assessed them nationally and no more have been commissioned.
Essentially the data has already been contaminated by CAFCASS before being double distilled by WA. For example ‘Where the order at the final hearing was known, it was less common for unsupervised contact to be ordered in cases featuring allegations of abuse (39%) than cases without (48%). Cases featuring allegations of abuse were more likely to conclude with an order for no direct contact (19%) than cases without (11%), and this was the same for contact that was supervised or monitored in some way (11% and 6% respectively). In the cases where domestic abuse was alleged and unsupervised contact was ordered, unsupervised contact had been taking place between the applicant and the child either at the time of the application to court (67%) or within the six months prior to the application to court (33%). Where known, orders at the first and final hearings were made with the consent of the parties in 89% and 86% of cases respectively.’
These statistics are generated by CAFCASS recommendations based on allegations alone and are no indicator of whether these allegations were true or not. In reality those accused of DV are treated as guilty until proven innocent and sometimes even after they are proven innocent by exercising what is known as the ‘precautionary principle.’ Clearly WA feel that further precautions should be taken ‘just in case’ the allegations might be true. They conclude the paragraph above as follows… Women’s Aid and Cafcass caution that contact taking place before proceedings and consent may not always equate to an ‘agreement’ about contact and may instead be indicative of a context of coercion or fear.
This technique of insinuation is called value addition wherein values are added to data for no discernible reason. Note the qualifying term ‘may’. Whether parents with residential control over their children do truly acquiesce to ‘coercion’ in order to grant child contact or not is given no consideration at all in favour of a presumption that this ‘may’ be the case.
Women’s Aid are not simply a women’s support group as the name suggests either. They are a self-declared feminist group. Feminism is not an essential ingredient in supporting women. Neither is it a charitable cause yet WA enjoys charitable status and receives millions of pounds in central and local government funding. Many men and women find feminist values abhorrent and incompatible with charitable work. Erin Pizzey who founded the first women’s refuge in the 1970s quickly became disillusioned with militant feminism and distanced herself from them. She is one of the most outspoken critics of Women’s Aid and similar operations. Nevertheless it remains the fact that you cannot play a role in WA unless you are subservient to the doctrine of feminism and it pervades through every level of their operations. In comparison Men’s Aid are gender neutral, serve women equally and engage women staff without any doctrinal requirements.
The WA slogan that appears on their logo is also worthy of note ‘until women & children are safe.’ This is a very clever and multi layered piece of propaganda. Firstly it implies that women and indeed children are not safe. That they are subject to impending doom. In fact the UK has one of the safest populations in the developed world and is relatively crime free. Secondly without directly stating that they are a feminist organisation by implication they don’t care whether men are safe or not. Thirdly they hijack children. Women & Children are coupled together like Salt & Pepper or Black & White. Men don’t protect children apparently but women do. Seemingly if it were not for feminist women children would not be safe at all. Bear in mind that women statistically murder more children than men do (Re: 330 Child Homocides) and are approximately twice as likely to be complicit in maltreatment of children. Thus there is bias hardwired into every level of their representations that is inherently misandrist, fails women who have no interest in feminism and attempts to claim an imperative to act in the best interest of children who have never sought their services and have no idea who they are.
Now let us examine exactly what an allegation is without even considering whether it is true or not. Long before allegations end up with WA and or CAFCASS they often are reported to the police. These reports might be considered as raw data free from interpretation or spin. However the police report that forty per cent of the 421,000 DV allegations they receive annually are not even crimes. Of those referred to the CPS only seventy per cent resulted in convictions with an acquittal rate of twenty two per cent. In other words more allegations were unfounded than were deemed to be valid. Many were petty or vexatious in nature.
https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/domesticabuseinenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2016/relateddata
No statistics are available for how many allegations of DV are found as legal fact in the Family Division and thus WA proceed on the basis of pure allegations alone. They ignore the fact that DV allegations have multiplied exponentially since the cutting of Legal Aid in 2014 over eightfold and make no mention of the ‘DV gateway’ to legal funding wherein public funding can be obtained through the vaguest means such as a letter from a GP based on self-reporting or a referral from an agency such as WA again based on self-reporting, or admission or refusal from a refuge. Note here that WA is instrumental in generating or supporting these allegations as a referral agency.
More suggestive evidence of DV to qualify for public funding would be a police caution, arrest or conviction. However a non-molestation undertaking or order without admission of guilt also qualifies. Many accused men are glad to sign such an undertaking when they have no wish to remain in contact, little knowing that it will open the gateway for their ex-partner to receive thousands of pounds of skilled representation. WA however are fully mindful that they open the DV gateway when they write letters repeating the allegations they hear without any regard for their veracity.
The DV gateway to Legal Aid produces a judicial anomaly wherein public funding is normally provided for accused people to defend themselves however in instances involving DV the accuser is funded and the accused is most often unable to afford representation. The application of Practise Direction 12J prohibiting the accused from even questioning the accuser (a right normally afforded by habeas corpus) further tilts the table against them and they are clearly legally disadvantaged by it in ways we can explore further in other articles.
WA completely disregards the possibility of false and malicious allegations. They never appear in their lexicon of false reportage. Men are routinely accused of using the courts to pursue coercive campaigns against women but nowhere is the possibility that women may not tell the truth even explored yet alone quantified. It is a no go area for WA.

The inclusion process
The report claims that “from the total sample of 15,160 cases, 216 were chosen at random to form the sample to be studied”. Presumably this strange number was deemed to be representative. As there was no oversight of this process we must apparently take their word for it. “No medical evidence of domestic abuse was recorded during data collection” It does not distinguish reciprocal violence and allegations from the non-reciprocal.
What is clear is that CAFCASS undertook to share confidential materials with WA that they had no business doing so under the Data Protection Act. Furthermore that they either actively excluded all their other key stakeholders such as Men’s Aid and interested parties from participating or simply failed to include them at best. It is hard to surmise how they could not have predicted this cosy arrangement would not provoke outrage. They are currently inviting others to participate but will not give them the exclusive opportunity afforded to WA.

The exclusion process
Not only have other affected parties and special interest groups been excluded form participation but so have all discrepant research materials. For any scholarly work to have credibility it should refer to and countervail any comparative works. However the current report is achieved by CAFCASS and WA colluding in isolation. There is a wealth of robust evidence showing that in some age groups women are many times more violent than men. However WA have repeatedly been presented with such sources and stoically ignore them.
Clinical and social studies reveal far higher figures for male victims than reported crimes or allegations in the Family Division and in some cases many times higher than women. This is believed to because both men and women participating in research do not have to make complaints against intimate partners or obtain convictions.
http://www.saveservices.org/2012/02/cdc-study-more-men-than-women-victims-of-partner-abuse/
http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176%2Fpn.42.15.0031a
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence_against_men
Conclusions drawn
The report is predictably very thin on conclusions although it states that those accused of DV were less likely to be granted unobserved contact which is not exactly a revelation. Instead the report relies heavily on insinuation. For example it produces a series of Venn diagrams linking DV allegations to various forms of direct and indirect contact. The two topics are of course completely unrelated unless you want to link them by persuading courts to withhold contact until allegations have been resolved or indeed if you conclude that DV to a parent is likely to impact on a child even when the victim parent is not present. All paths lead in this direction. Most tellingly it makes no attempt to quantify the number of allegations that come to be proven with time. Conversely it makes no attempt to measure how many remain unproven and out of them how many are false and malicious. The possibility of a cult of false and malicious allegations is not up for exploration at all. The emphasis is always on protecting or rewarding those who make allegations.
In fairness to Anthony Douglas of CAFCASS the only conclusions he states publically is that it highlights the ‘complex’ nature of such matters in typically non-committal terms and it remains to be seen if he has been snake charmed by this long complicated display of smoke and mirrors.
(*Comment moderated for legal reasons)

Cameron Paterson - August 2, 2017 at 3:25pm

“What is clear is that CAFCASS undertook to share confidential materials with WA that they had no business doing so under the Data Protection Act.”
It’s worth noting that Cafcass have denied doing this

Paul - August 2, 2017 at 4:12pm

Im not surprised they have denied it. I would say they would have to go along way to convince people on this thread I think. People who have experienced them first hand. Feels alot like CAFCAS are the militant arm of WA.
Excelent sumary of the situation by Richard MA.

padre stevie - August 3, 2017 at 9:45am

Cameron
The cover sheet for CAFCASS reports contains a confidentiality clause, which states:
‘This report has been prepared for the court and should always be treated as confidential. It can only be disclosed to those to whom the Court rules allow. Its is a contempt of court to disclose this report to anyone else without prior permission of the court. (The relevant rules are – the Family Procedure Rules 2010, Part 12, chapter 7 communication of information: Proceedings Relating to Children’; and PD 12G – Communication of Information.

Cameron Paterson - August 3, 2017 at 10:15am

I was referring to this line in the Cafcass statement we added to our report:

“Contrary to what is stated in the FNF release, at no point have we ever opened confidential case files to Women’s Aid.”

padre stevie - August 3, 2017 at 12:49pm

Thank you for pointing that out Cameron. My point in posting this was to illustrate that CAFCASS have chosen the words in their response very carefully. Whilst it may be true to say ‘…at no point have we ever opened confidential case files to Women’s Aid’. It would not be true to say that they have not ‘disclosed’ the contents of case files to WA. Therefore, this may be a contempt of court by CAFCASS.

Andrew - August 2, 2017 at 9:30am

No matter how you cut the mustard: disclosing the case files to a private pressure group iwas wrong. How can any parent ever again trust CAFCASS with their – or their children’s – confidences?

Dr Sue Whitcombe - August 2, 2017 at 3:09pm

I have some concerns about the reported methdology used. Cafcass here state that “at no point have we ever opened confidential case files to Women’s Aid.” While it is clear in the report that quantitative data was collected by members of Cafcass’ policy team and a National Improvement Service Manager, it is unclear who analysed the data, who had access to the qualitative data and who wrote the report. The respective roles of Cafcass and Womens Aid in conduct this study and subsequent reporting are not transparent.

Despite Cafcass re-asserting here that the study was not designed to make findings on allegations of domestic abuse” throughout the report, such allegations are reported as fact such as here:

Children in the sample presented a wide range of responses to the abuse they had experienced (p 7).

Please see here for further critical review of the report: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/looking-beyond-headlines-domestic-abuse-allegations-family-whitcombe?trk=v-feed&lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_all%3BCFNv89vYvi7qcGht5REvxg%3D%3D

I also have some concerns about ethical practise and wonder whether service users are aware that their personal story may be shared outside of Family Proceedings, without the permission of the Court, in this manner. Of concern to me, as someone instructed to provide expert opinion in cases, is that my opinion may be disclosed similarly.

Paul - August 2, 2017 at 4:56pm

Thats and excellent point sue. We are not permitted to discuss matters of our cases openly but CAFCAS are open to discuss our cases with Womens Aid ? What else is been shared ?

Richard MA - August 6, 2017 at 12:36pm

I urge you to protest directly to CAFCASS as I have. You could also protest to WA but I warn you they simply ignore any discrepant arguments.

Paul - August 2, 2017 at 3:31pm

Long list of contributers on the thread. All with first hand experience of CAFCAS all openly condemning them and testifing to their predudical nature.
Still it continues. How bad is this thread sexist thread. How deep does this predudice run. We can’t understand this predudice until we accept it is taking place.

Nick Langford - August 3, 2017 at 10:24am

It is important to note that CAFCASS claim they have NOT passed confidential reports to Women’s Aid. The initial analysis was performed by CAFCASS staff, and it was this that was passed to WA.
Having said that, why should we believe CAFCASS, when they claim to have consulted with FNF and Men’s Aid, and it is clear from both organisations that they have not? The potential of this collaboration to break down all remaining trust in CAFCASS is enormous, and I repeat my assertion that this is a catastrophic error of judgement by the CAFCASS management, and it is time the government acted on its pledge and abolished CAFCASS, or at the very least, sacked its management, for which there is precedent. If CAFCASS could limit their role to that which is their statutory obligation, they might have a chance, but they have never been able to do that, and have always failed in that role and acted beyond their remit and their competence to engage in gender politics.

JamesB - August 4, 2017 at 4:17pm

What trust is left in Cafcass .. I didn’t think there was any.

Cafcass are a sick fucking joke.

My experience of them was as per Gary Carhart above.

I did complain, went as far as parliamentary ombudsman, who upheld my complaint. Not that that mattered as I had been stitchedup in court by then at final hearing based on nothing more than what Gary Carhart said above.

Was going to post this sooner, but got to it now, is perhaps a little catartic, would be nice to have some reform it would be good if there was please. Or advice on what the role of men and women is in society and some clarity on how family should work from politicians and schools etc I say this as I have teenagers and I don’t know how to bring them up, I don’t like the idea of men living in separate places from women and children and being moaned at for not making a standard which is not known should be anyway. All getting a bit freudian now, I’d settle for transparency and open courts and less bullshit being accepted as evidence and less radical feminists being accepted as experts, sick joke my experiences, not unlike the others here. As Mike Gatting said, one rule for one side, one for the other, its not cricket.

JamesB - August 4, 2017 at 7:33pm

I wonder if the government ever regret intervening in the family, attempting to play referee between spouses, its a difficult job which they do badly.

Where there is no abuse the only logical non biased solution and answer has to be shared parenting 50:50 default.

JamesB - August 5, 2017 at 11:50am

If fathers have no rights to their children, then they should be banned from maternity wards and paying child maintenance.I suggest not, they should be involved. To say you have no right but to pay as the establishment (including cafcass) does is a sick joke, its political correctness gone mad and bad.

JamesB - August 5, 2017 at 6:02pm

Avoid cafcass like the plague. I advise not to engage with them at all as they do not help. Indeed court as a man will not help at all either.

Richard MA - August 6, 2017 at 12:33pm

Just as an addendum I should say that I have written directly to CAFCASS detailing the concerns of Men’s Aid about the quality of their ‘report’ and recieved no response. We are theoretically ‘key stakeholders’ and consultation partners of CAFCASS. With the best will in the world it is very hard to maintain any trust with such an organisation any more. They appear to be throwing the baby out with the bath water on this topic.

WA of course have always refused point blank to communicate or collaborate with us at any level. As a matter of formality I communicate with them literally on a daily basis but am simply ignored by them.

Nick Langford - August 7, 2017 at 12:39pm

These things should be widely known.

Stitchedup - August 7, 2017 at 2:10pm

I’ve often thought about writing a letter to my local free newspaper that publish reader letters. However, I’m not sure they would publish a letter that counters the feminist narrative on domestic abuse. In addition to that, I’m not the best writer so would probably do more harm than good. Just an idea, could we call on some of our more gifted contributors to pen a letter on a domestic abuse topic that challenges the feminist narrative that we could forward to our local free newspapers? Perhaps fnf could do something similar on a national scale??

Cameron Paterson - August 7, 2017 at 2:18pm

I’m not sure free newspapers have much of a readership these days

Stitcheduo - August 7, 2017 at 2:39pm

You may be right Cameron but I see a lot of letters from councillors and politically minded members of the public and these are the grass routes politicians that need to hear an alternative narrative. I think change will only come from the bottom, those at the top, senior judges and politicians alike, are totally out of touch, they just spout off the same old feminist BS because they think it will win them votes or progress their career.

Paul - August 7, 2017 at 9:33pm

Im sick of writing. Write to my MP. To police commitioner. Complain to courts. To cafcas. I could have written Lord of the Rings 2 by now.
We all need to realise that we are been collectively ignored.
Selective hearing. They hear what we are saying. But everything is ticking along nicely. Why bother changing anything? The people we write too are in no danger of been stopped from seeing their kids.
Ive told you what we need to do. Nothing but a united front, an uprising. Civil unrest. There seems to be a lack of collective will to do anything. Maybe our kids dont mean that much anyway ? Maybe were not willing to risk our new cosy life style an face the threat of jail. Your all bright people but need to read more history. Only one way to change a dictatorship to overcome tyrany.

Nick Langford - August 10, 2017 at 10:18am

I wrote to my MP last year complaining that Parliament was basing debates entirely and exclusively on “evidence” derived from the discredited “19 Child Homicides” report and eventually received a reply from a junior minister in the MoJ that the ministry was, in fact, consulting widely with various interested parties, including FNF and ManKind. We now know this to be false: there is no evidence I am aware of that they have consulted anyone other than Women’s Aid. The result is that an ideologically-driven pressure group is dominating government policy. Whether this is a women’s group or a men’s group is immaterial: the fact is that any changes in policy that result will be far from impartial and will favour half of the users of the family justice system – which is already subject to severe criticism – over the other half. It is a deplorable state of affairs and the government, and CAFCASS in particular, should be called to account.

Colpaz - August 11, 2017 at 9:38pm

I was in a violent relationship with my ex wife being the aggressor. I took part in a male domestic violence survey where all the participants in our part were male. This report went to the police commissioner’s and in the whole of the document the report regarding domestic violence was from the male perspective and yet Paddy Tipping the Police Commissioner for Nottinghamshire stated in his manifesto that more help would be available for Women suffering from domestic violence. So if you are a male victim of domestic violence the police (and from my own experience as well) are already biased towards women and the men who are the victim are treated like the perpetrator. So when going to court CAFCASS and the police have already biased the judge in favour of women. It was only the fact that I had a wholey impartial social working dealing with the custody of my son’s case that I managed to get residency (custody) of my son.

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