Select Committee on Draft Children (Contact) and Adoption Bill First Report

Chapter 4 Enforcement orders (clause 3)

189.  We recommend that it be made plain on the face of the Bill that the court may not impose any of the enforcement measures available to it without first considering the scope for requiring a contact activity which might address the failure of contact arrangements in a more constructive way. (para 84)

190.  The Committee does not consider that it would be appropriate for a family court to impose a curfew upon a parent purely as a punishment. It is our view that such a requirement should only be imposed in an attempt, directly, to promote compliance with the court's original order, for example as a means of ensuring that a parent was in an agreed location at an agreed time to allow contact to take place. (para 85)

191.  The full Bill should give a court the power to make a "time and place requirement", specifying what action a parent who is in breach of a contact order must take in order to facilitate the contact envisaged in the original order; and including a warning that breach would lead swiftly to the making of an enforcement order. (para 86)

192.  The courts should not have the power to impose an electronic compliance monitoring requirement in proceedings relating to contact arrangements. (para 89)

193.  The draft Bill fails to make a connection between the new enforcement orders and existing procedure and sanctions for contempt. If it is intended that the courts should have available to them a spectrum of enforcement provisions, ranging in severity, this should be made clear in the full Bill. This could be achieved by amending the draft Bill; or by amending section 14 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 to expand the range of sanctions to include unpaid work. (para 94)

194.  We recommend that when the full Bill is introduced the Government clarify whether the unpaid work that parents will be required to undertake is to be organised separately from "community service" performed by offenders—and if that is do, who is to have responsibility for identifying an organising such work. (para 97)

195.  It is essential that the Government (a) clarify who will be responsible for monitoring, implementing and ensuring compliance with an enforcement order; and (b) quantify the resource implications. (para 99)

196.  Before making an enforcement order, the court should explicitly be required to consider the safety implications for each parent and for the child of making such an order; and should not make an order unless it is satisfied that it is safe to do so. (para 101)

197.  The Government should consider removing new section 11G(9) from the Bill altogether. It would be consistent with this conclusion for proposed new section 11I(9) also to be deleted from the Bill. (para 107)

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