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Social workers ‘acting like Stalinist Russia’

Social workers have been criticised by the Court of Appeal over moves to permanently remove young children from their mothers — with one senior judge describing plans to take a child from its mother like something from “Stalin's Russia or Mao's China”.

Lord Justice Wall branded the failure of social workers in Greenwich, London, to support a mother trying to change her life and get her children back “quite shocking”.

The judge said what occurred would do little to dispel the perception of many that social workers were “arrogant and enthusiastic removers of children from their parents into an unsatisfactory care system — trampling on the rights of parents and children in the process”.

In a second case, another appeal judge called the actions of Devon County Council in pursuing plans to have a baby adopted without giving the natural mother a last chance to show he was safe with her was likely to be perceived as “more like Stalin's Russia or Mao's China than the west of England”.

The court expressed appreciation for the tasks social workers had to perform, and Lord Justice Wall said he recognised the fact they were “damned if they do and damned if they do not”.

But their legal duty in care proceedings was plain: “Their aim should be to unite families rather than separate them.” In both cases the mothers were given more time to show they were able to parent their children safely.

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