Operations of the Family Courts - Justice Committee Contents

Supplementary evidence from Baroness Howarth, Chair, Cafcass (FC 70)

The ALC has drawn your attention to its concerns about Anthony Douglas' evidence to the Committee, in which he said: If I may, Mr Chairman, it is important to say that a year ago we had over 1,000 unallocated public law care cases after the significant rise. We now have just seven." The letter goes on to demonstrate the basis on which they believe that the number was incorrect, in particular in the light of a survey that was conducted on 7 and 8 April among some ALC solicitor members.

The Memorandum submitted by Cafcass to the Committee on 9 March made clear that there are three types of allocation status within Cafcass: unallocated, duty allocated, and (substantive or fully) allocated. The Memorandum also stated, "a substantive allocation is also allocation to an appointment of Children's Guardian by the court in s31 care, supervision and other relevant Public Law cases". The Memorandum also contained information, for each month between February 2010 and February 2011, about the number of cases of each type. In terms of the ALC's concerns, the key issue is that not only were there nine unallocated care cases as at 28 February 2011 (which had reduced to seven cases by 22 March, as Anthony stated), there were also a further 215 duty allocated care cases as at 28 February 2011, none of which had allocated Children's Guardians. I do recognise, of course, that while your Committee was in possession of all of this information, the contents of the Memorandum were unlikely to be known to the ALC. Given this, the ALC appears to have misinterpreted Anthony's remark to mean that he was asserting that there were only seven cases which were without a Children's Guardian. However, as the Memorandum had made clear, it is only in substantive/fully allocated cases that a Children's Guardian is appointed.

We have looked very carefully at the 17 cases listed in the ALC letter and have set out below the results of our inquiries, with the table following the same case ordering as that used by the ALC. We have been unable to identify one of the cases as having been received by Cafcass. As can be seen, as at 8 April, ten of the cases were substantively allocated, while four of the cases were allocated on a duty basis and two were unallocated. All 16 of the cases are now fully allocated.

While I recognise that ALC members may well not have been aware of the five cases where allocations were taking place at the time (7 and 8 April) the survey was being conducted, among the cases are six where the substantive allocation had taken place between two weeks and 11 months before the survey. The final five cases were allocated after the period during which the survey was conducted (ie between 11 April and 5 May).
Court Number Cafcass CMS number Cafcass office Date application received Date case duty allocated Date of substantive allocation Status on 8 April 2011
NJ11 C00024 426953 Wells St8.3.11 9.3.11 23.3.11Allocated
NZ11C00018 424290 Surrey21 2 11 21.2.11 11 4 11Duty allocated
U011C00036 424617 Ilford23.2.11 23.2.11 7.4.11Allocated
A111C00032 424892 Archway23.2.11 23.2.11 25.3.11Allocated
IL11C00110 425326 Wells St25.2.11 28.2.11 20 4 11Duty allocated
RI11C00014 426030 East Kent3.3.11 3.3.11 12.4.11Duty allocated
MW11C00024 425480 East Kent28.2.11 28.2.11 28 3 11Allocated
IL11C00116 425594 Wells St1.3.11 1.3.11 8.4.11Allocated
ILC00124 426527Wells St 7.3.11 Duty allocated
A111C00046 426714 Archway8.3.11 8.3.11 25.3.11Allocated
NJ11C00040 427078 Wells St9.3.11 9.3.11 8.4.11Allocated
DX10000055 378790 Avon4.5.10 4.5.10 7.5.10Allocated
DF11C00019 433104 Croydon18.4.11 18.4.11 20.4.11Unallocated
IL11C00123 426552 Wells St7.3.11 7.3.11 8.4.11Allocated
ILI 1C00131 427508 Wells St11 3 11 11.3.11 8.4.11Allocated
NJ11C00044 428770 Archway18.3.11 18.3.11 24.3.11Unallocated
IL1 1C00132 Can't locate

I hope that this information provides the clarification that the ALC considers is needed. I am happy for the above information to be shared by Cafcass with the ALC should you deem that appropriate, in order directly to respond to their concerns.

May 2011

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Prepared 14 July 2011