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14 06 09 PublicoAna Dias Cordeira is the journalist who wrote the most diligent and detailed articles about the Pedros at the time. Now she studied the underlying issue more deeply and wrote an article that reads a bit funny in the Google translation: Cases of children removed from families in the UK grew up with incentives to adopt.

Among the thousands of families who say they have unfairly lost the kids, in recent years, a few dozen arrived in Brussels. The European Parliament asked for an investigation to the European Commission.

The case of Pedros’ family, whose five children were removed in 2013 in Grantham, and the Portuguese mother in May this year was without the baby of five months in Southend-on-sea, are the most visible side of a situation which affects other Portuguese families living in the United Kingdom – will be at least five – and, in recent years tens of thousands of mainly British and foreign families.

The frequency and severity of cases is not now, but this year prompted a petition to the European Parliament with more than 3,600 signatures involving families who claim to be victims of unjust processes, completed, in some cases, with the irreversible adoption of children without their consent.

It is against this possibility that the couple Pedro tries to fight. Carla and José Pedro waiting for social services of Grantham decide – after a psychological evaluation of children who may not be completed before August – if children will be transferred to an institution in Portugal, passing the Social security process, as proposed by the Portuguese authorities.

The process of the five-month-old girl taken in may by the social services of Southend-on-sea is not closed. The choice of the baby stay with a paternal aunt was accepted by the judge, who recommended that happen as soon as possible, but social services informed the aunt that the girl should not be delivered before August, continuing for now living with a foster family.

In March, after a session devoted to the issue of the withdrawal of children and adoptions in the United Kingdom, the MEPs of the Committee on Petitions decided not to close the dossier and asked for an investigation to the European Commission – on suspicion of a breach of Community law in cases like the couple Pedro.

Brussels may or may not move forward with the process, and ask for more information to families and to the Government of the United Kingdom. Although unlikely, this institution could, if you could find justification for this, take the country to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

One before and one after

When it scans the system for protection of children in the United Kingdom is often pointed to a “before” and “after” of 2007, the year of the death of 17-month-old baby known as Baby P. proved that parents had caused death, with serious injury, the baby who was being accompanied, for several months, by Social Services-that have been harshly criticized for not having prevented the tragedy.

The case of Baby P. is often invoked to explain why choose the British system for removing the children to the parents not only when there are “clear signs of danger”, as in Portugal, but from the moment that may exist “future risk of emotional damage”, even without physical or emotional abuse.

The truth is that the number of children removed from their families was already increasing exponentially before the death of Baby P. Critics of the system are not the fears of social workers but the adoption incentives created by the Government of Tony Blair seven years earlier.

In 2000, the British Executive put in motion a plan to accelerate the adoption procedures, offering financial bonuses to the Councils that reached in 2006 the goal of 50% increase in the number of children given to foster families. The objective announced was to create alternatives to the institutionalization of children.

In July 2007, before the death of Baby P, the Daily Mail reported that the Government had offered 36 million pounds to the Councils that fulfil the goals and that there were 900 infants (less than one week) per year that were being separated from their parents – 300% more than ten years earlier. Also revealed that 1300 babies (with more than a week and less than one month) were withdrawn every year original families, which corresponded to an increase of 141% in a decade. But only one or the other case came to the attention of the public, given the prohibition imposed on parents from talking to the media during the process.

“Clandestine Arrangement”

Also that year, and the purpose of the two cases of two Englishwomen, Pauline Goodwin and Sharon Harkness, the Daily Telegraph wrote that the family courts “refuse to tell their mothers for their children are removed and placed for adoption” without his consent. In none of the situations was given access to the grounds of the decision of the judge.

And without documents there was no appeal possible to the decision. None of them returned to see his kids, however adopted.

Rarely – or almost never happens, but on a News-February 2014, the Daily Mail said as a judge of a superior court, Anna Pauffley, reversed the decision of a family court of first instance to take a baby to the mother.

The magistrate accused judges and social services technicians of conspiring for the wrongful removal of children to families and denounced, in the case in question, “a clandestine arrangement” in which the magistrates only bother to comply with the requirements of social services without listening, objectively, the version and the parents’ requests.

“One of the problems is the lack of reliability of the evidence” in these processes,whose hearings are held behind closed doors, said the public the Liberal Democrats MP John Hemming, Chairman of Justice for Families, a movement connected to this cause. But also the benefits that many take the system, he adds.

Host families can earn £ 500 per week per child (about 600 euros) and can host several simultaneously. The change of a child’s family can render adoption agencies – which emerged in 2000 and multiplied – between 20 thousand to 30 thousand pounds (24 000 to 36 000 euros).

John Hemming explains that the hearings in court almost never include parental defence witnesses and speaks on “pressure to increase the number of children adopted” a “corrupt system”. Both Goodwin and Pauline English Sharon Harkness are an example of the extreme situation that these cases can get, note the same responsible, and at the same time, represent “the tip of the iceberg” of a phenomenon who settled in society.

When the journalist Florence Bellone began to investigate the protection of children in the United Kingdom in 2010 didn’t realize the “service economy” that had grown up around the system. At that time, “was still in a State of horror” of who watches, incredulous, the dozens of cases of children uprooted the family that you love them and handed over to another who do not know, “he says to the public. Only later realised that decisions of social services fall under a system in which everybody benefits: local authorities, adoption agencies (public, private or semi privadas), temporary foster families, forensic experts, doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists.

Concealing the identity of the Francophone Belgian radio television journalist (RTBF), and playing the role (planned in the system) to advocate of families without a lawyer, attended the hearings in family courts. Was also present at meetings of responsible Social services in which he prepared the process of the withdrawal of one – or several children – of a family.

For months – and then years – investigated. Got people told him his story outside the United Kingdom, because the country may be stuck if you speak while running the process. Your story, inserted in a series of several on the topic and who won in Europe the Lorenzo Natali Prize for journalism 2011 in radio category, don’t want to erase the cases of minors living real situations of maltreatment, neglect and danger. Before exposes thousands of other situations,unknown, children taken to the families in “little transparent processes”, based on “minor” complaints, “signalling” errors or suspected without proof, defends.

Saw babies being taken of motherhood by mothers being referenced in social services as unstable or vulnerable – by themselves in the past have asked for psychological support, suffered attacks of the companions or have been abandoned. Heard mothers and fathers losing in court and see his madness only strengthen against them, the case presented by social services. Met children who asked not to be in foster care. “They Begged. Wanted to go back to their parents, “he emphasises.

And saw the inaction of consulates of various countries – who said nothing could do to help people and were only willing to supply the names of prospective lawyers. Notice how they accepted the system without confrontation. The trend is “not addressing” the United Kingdom, says, although point exceptions as the example of the Government of Slovakia, which threatened to take the country to the European Court of human rights, thus two Slovak children returned to their family.

“Tough questions”

The Lorenzo Natali Prize jury highlighted the merit of the Florence investigation Bellone in exposing “tough questions for the Government of the United Kingdom” – in terms of human rights and freedom of expression – and a reality”suppressed” by the authorities: the withdrawal, at the time, more than 10 thousand children per year, and which today are 30 thousand, contends the author of the report “Britain: The Stolen Children“.

“Parents are removed in an arbitrary manner, to a minimum pretext, to be placed in institutions or in adoption”, defends the journalist. “That’s what happens in most cases. The State decides who can be a parent. ”

There were many people who met a Florence Bellone situation which “destroyed” for life. And for each of these people has a story. Marked-in particular the tone and the words of a social worker, still in the hospital, telling a mother that this would not be able to create your newborn, because had suffered much in the past: out violated in young and had suffered aggression. I would never do, so good choices for himself and his son. The baby was removed.

Most striking experiments, Florence Bellone joins a conviction: from the moment that social services are taking the decision to take the child is hard to stop the gears. “I’ve seldom seen that could be made in reverse. The best interests of the child is always seen in extremely close by all professionals involved in the process, since judges – experts like doctors or psychologists – called to intervene,” said. “Never arises the question of the child could be traumatized by being taken to the parents or to live with a foster family.”

And even when the judge expressed preference for maintaining the child with the parents, tend to be more sensitive to “fears” of social workers, whether founded or not. “I was repeatedly given the impression that the judge’s decision was already taken from the beginning.”

http://www.publico.pt/sociedade/noticia/casos-de-criancas-retiradas-a-familias-no-reino-unido-cresceram-com-incentivos-a-adopcao-1639222?page=2#follow

Another article says: 

Social services remove baby of five months the Portuguese mother in England

The story of the couple Pedro who were withdrawn the five children in 2013 is not unique among the Portuguese living in the United Kingdom. Now, among other cases, is a Portuguese mother suspected of assault, but was never formally charged.

The situation of the couple who were taken from the five children in England, by a decision of the family court in Grantham in 2013, is not unique among the Portuguese in England. This year, a Portuguese mother 29 years, living in the country for five, lost her daughter five months, when took her to the hospital of Southend-on-sea. The baby had fallen from a car seat to pack at home and had a bruise on her head.

On the same day the child was observed in the hospital, social services and the police in this town (60 km east of London) were immediately alerted, as is customary in the United Kingdom when there are doubts about the reasons that lead the child to be observed. A suit was filed against the mother, on suspicion of assault. This is still under investigation. The child was removed, leaving the custody split: 50% social services and 25% for each parent (separated). The child has double nationality-Portuguese and English.

The tests conducted at the hospital pointed to a fracture that, according to his doctors, could not be accidental. Were these scans – never consulted by mother and never presented at hearings in court – to sustain the thesis of social services that the mother constituted a danger to the baby. The child was being breastfed at the time of withdrawal in early may, was given to a foster family.

Other cases involving Portuguese children dropped the families in England on suspicion of neglect or mistreatment are being accompanied by the Consulates General of Portugal in London and Manchester, according to an official from the Embassy in London. Will be at least five. The audience tried to know the exact number of Portuguese in this situation, with the Office of the Secretary of State for Portuguese communities, Jose Cesario, and waits for a response since last Monday.

According to the head of the Embassy, explained the case of baby to Southend is being accompanied by the Consulate General of London, that “cannot interfere in the process”, for example, to query the Social Services reports that consider the mother unable to provide security for the harmonious development of the child.The same source added: “the Consulate will seek to intervene as far as is possible,if the suspicions are unfounded.”

A contact social services to Southend, the audience tried to clarify the foundations of charges against the mother. “For reasons of confidentiality, we cannot discuss any individual case,” replied by writing Diane Keens, head of Department of Places and resources of local authorities of Southend-on-sea. “We can say very clearly, however, that decisions involving the care of children are taken after very detailed investigations on each individual case. Always give priority, in the process, the best interests of the child “, added in the note sent by email.

“Descent into hell”

The father, English, is separated from its mother who maintains a good relationship and maintained regular contact with his daughter. He was admitted to a psychiatric clinic a few days after removal of the daughter, losing 25% of parental power that still was assigned (and that you can spend to social services).

“When children are withdrawn, the parents go crazy. It’s a descent into hell, “says by phone the journalist Florence Bellone, Francophone Belgian radio and television (RTBF), who since 2010 theme dedicated to various reports, having been one of them (Great Britain: The Stolen Children) awarded the Lorenzo Natali Prize for journalism 2011 for radio. This “State of madness” which can take the form of showdown with the system – social services or the judges – “is immediately used against them in the courts”, adds to the public.

The mother of the baby to Southend maintains 50% of parental power that will lose, if it’s stuck. And you can do it, if you have any contact with the media or publicize the case in social networks. These cases are so often in the shade. “In theory, there is the secret to protect children, but in reality, the purpose of which is to protect the system. If [the parents] publish references to cases on social networks such as Facebook, are sometimes arrested, “said the public John Hemming, Mr Liberal Democrats through the circle of Birmingham, who chairs the Justice for Families, a group that campaigns for changes to the laws of family.

John Hemming has knowledge of many other situations – including the family Pedro, who is currently waiting to see adopted in England to transfer the case to the Portuguese Social security system and the arrival of five children to a host institution in Portugal, presented in March by the Embassy of Portugal in London and welcomed, although not immediately accepted, by social services of Grantham, where lives the couple Carla and José Pedro.

Guilty until proven otherwise

As us about 30 thousand cases that, according to journalist Florence Bellone, involve every year, British or foreign parents who are taken from the children, the mother of the baby to Southend has to prove his innocence. In criminal courts,the parents are innocent until proven otherwise. In the family courts, is the inverse. “Are guilty until you can prove your innocence”, confirms in an interview the British activist Ian Josephs.

Ian Josephs has launched several campaigns to demand an end to the secrecy imposed on families who are withdrawn children, for not being at risk the security of the State. But it also emphasized the urgent need to put an end to this point:the family courts punish parents without these to be convicted or even charged. And of these losing children when there is suspicion, not absolute proof, of neglect, mistreatment, or “future risk of emotional damage”. So that the child is adequately protected in the United Kingdom, defends, “these cases should be dealt with in criminal courts”, in which it is possible to present witnesses in his own defense-what is denied to parents, in most of these cases in the family courts – and proof is required in addition to the Social Services reports or testimonies not face-to-face.

http://www.publico.pt/sociedade/noticia/servicos-sociais-retiram-bebe-de-cinco-meses-a-mae-portuguesa-em-inglaterra-1638804?page=2#follow

And I met kids who were asking for everything to return to parents

When the journalist Florence Bellone began to investigate the protection of children in the United Kingdom in 2010 didn’t realize the “service economy” that had grown up around the system. At that time, “was still in a State of horror” of who watches, incredulous, the dozens of cases of children uprooted the family that you love them and handed over to another who do not know, “he says to the public. Only later realized that decisions of social services fall under a system in which everybody benefits: local authorities, adoption agencies (public, private or semi privadas), temporary foster families, forensic experts, doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists.

Concealing the identity of the Francophone Belgian radio television journalist (RTBF), and playing the role (planned in the system) to advocate of families without a lawyer, attended the hearings in family courts. Was also present at meetings of responsible Social services in which he prepared the process of the withdrawal of one-or several children – of a family.

For months – and then years – investigated. Got people told him his story outside the United Kingdom, because the country may be stuck if you speak while running the process. Your story, inserted in a series of several on the topic and who won in Europe the Lorenzo Natali Prize for journalism 2011 in radio category, don’t want to erase the cases of minors living real situations of maltreatment, neglect and danger. Before exposes thousands of other situations,unknown, children taken to the families in “little transparent processes”, based on “minor” complaints, “signaling” errors or suspected without proof, defends.

Saw babies being taken of motherhood by mothers being referenced in social services as unstable or vulnerable – by themselves in the past have asked for psychological support, suffered attacks of the companions or have been abandoned. Heard mothers and fathers losing in court and see his madness only strengthen against them, the case presented by social services. Met children who asked not to be in foster care. “They Begged. Wanted to go back to their parents, “he emphasizes.

And saw the inaction of consulates of various countries – who said nothing could do to help people and were only willing to supply the names of prospective lawyers. Notice how they accepted the system without confrontation. The trend is”not addressing” the United Kingdom, says, although point exceptions as the example of the Government of Slovakia, which threatened to take the country to the European Court of human rights, thus two Slovak children returned to their family.

“Tough questions”

The Lorenzo Natali Prize jury highlighted the merit of the Florence investigation Bellone in exposing “tough questions for the Government of the United Kingdom” – in terms of human rights and freedom of expression – and a reality”suppressed” by the authorities: the withdrawal, at the time, more than 10 thousand children per year, and which today are 30 thousand, contends the author of the report “Britain: The Stolen Children”.

“Parents are removed in an arbitrary manner, to a minimum pretext, to be placed in institutions or in adoption”, defends the journalist. “That’s what happens in most cases. The State decides who can be a parent. ”

There were many people who met a Florence Bellone situation which “destroyed” for life. And for each of these people has a story. Marked-in particular the tone and the words of a social worker, still in the hospital, telling a mother that this would not be able to create your newborn, because had suffered much in the past: out violated in young and had suffered aggression. I would never do, so good choices for himself and his son. The baby was removed.

Most striking experiments, Florence Bellone joins a conviction: from the moment that social services are taking the decision to take the child is hard to stop the gears. “I’ve seldom seen that could be made in reverse. The best interests of the child is always seen in extremely close by all professionals involved in the process,since judges – experts like doctors or psychologists – called to intervene, “said.” Never arises the question of the child could be traumatized by being taken to the parents or to live with a foster family.”

And even when the judge expressed preference for maintaining the child with the parents, tend to be more sensitive to “fears” of social workers, whether founded or not. “I was repeatedly given the impression that the judge’s decision was already taken from the beginning.”

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