Dear Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service,

On 18th Dec 2017 Cafcass amended its 'Cafcass complaints and compliments procedure' and added "including audio recordings made covertly" to point 3.2 and changed it as per below:

3.3 Evidence submitted by the complainant is considered by the Customer Service Team where it is proportionate and necessary to address the issues raised. Evidence obtained by deception, including audio recordings made covertly, or where to consider it would place an excessive burden on staff time without making a significant contribution to the resolution of the complaint, will not be accepted.

This is directly contradicting to Cafcass' OF policy as per below:

"OPERATING FRAMEWORK
2.27  We should have nothing to fear from covert recording. Our attitude should be, “I am doing my job and I have nothing to hide. I can explain why I said what I said or why I did what I did”. This is within the spirit of transparency in the family courts. We should always be transparent in our work, to meet contemporary expectations, including being able to defend whatever we say or write in a court under cross-examination, because we are working to a professional standard on behalf of a child. In this sense, we should expect that everything we say or write could become public knowledge"

1. Does Cafcass acknowledge the fact that this change in its 'Cafcass complaints and compliments procedure' contradicts its own OF policy?

2. Does Cafcass acknowledge the fact that this change made its own activities less transparent and made it more difficult for the service user to provide evidence during a complaint procedure?

There are many legit reasons why someone is choosing recording as a record keeping option. The law does not prohibit covert recordings for personal or family use. It is legal.

3. Does Cafcass acknowledge the fact that recording (covert or not) an interview is legal?

4. Why did Cafcass made this particular change in its 'Cafcass complaints and compliments procedure' policy?

Yours faithfully,

Eva

Governance, Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service

1 Attachment

Dear Eva,

 

Thank you for your email.

 

Please note that in order for a Freedom of Information request to be
valid, the request must include the requester’s real name. This is in
accordance with  the ICO’s guidance on Freedom of Information requests.
The guidance states that any variation of the requester’s title or first
name combined with their surname (e.g. Mr Smith or John Smith) will be
sufficient to meet this requirement. However, a first name or surname
provided in isolation, such as Eva, will not.

 

Please could you provide  either your full name or a suitable alternative
such as your title, initial and surname, e.g. Ms E Smith, so that we may
process your request.

 

Kind regards,

 

Governance Team | Cafcass

* [1][CAFCASS request email] | ü [2]www.cafcass.gov.uk 

[3]Cafcass_Logo_2014_email

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Governance,

I am sorry for my mistake, please find my full and real name below. I hope this will enable you to process my questions in my previous mail.

Yours sincerely,

Eva Nagy

Governance, Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Nagy,

 

Thank you for your email and for confirming of your full name.

 

Please accept this as a formal acknowledgement of your Freedom of
Information request which was received by Cafcass on 23 August 2018. Your
reference number is CAF18-087.

 

We aim to respond to you promptly, and at the latest 20 working days from
receipt of your request. You will therefore receive a response on or
before 20 September 2018.

 

Kind regards,

 

Governance Team | Cafcass

* [1][CAFCASS request email] | ü [2]www.cafcass.gov.uk 

[3]Cafcass_Logo_2014_email

 

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Governance, Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service

2 Attachments

Dear Ms Nagy,

 

Thank you for your email. Please find attached our response to your
Freedom of Information request.

 

Kind regards,

 

Governance Team | Cafcass

* [1][CAFCASS request email] | ü [2]www.cafcass.gov.uk 

[3]Cafcass_Logo_2014_email

 

 

 

 

Cafcass email addresses have changed to end in @cafcass.gov.uk. Please
ensure you update your address book. For more information on this change
please see our  [4]website

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Dear Governance,

You stated in your response:
"The Cafcass Complaints and Compliments confirms that if there are recordings made covertly they would not be considered as part of the complaints investigation.

As stated in the Operating Framework in relation to covert recordings, ‘there is a possibility that recordings may not be authentic, accurate or complete’. Cafcass would be unable to verify the authenticity of a covert recording submitted as evidence as part of a complaint.

Cafcass encourages complaints to be made in writing, for clarity and this includes any evidence submitted. Complaints about an FCA’s professional opinion and judgement are sent to the court by Cafcass and the court can take this into account in the decisions it makes in the proceedings."

So in a nutshell: You would not consider recordings made covertly as part of the complaints investigation as Cafcass would be unable to verify whether it is authentic, accurate or complete. You also encourage complaints to be made in writing.

My questions are as follows:
1. How can you verify whether any written statements, quotes, possibly accusation that the complainant makes about the FCA are authentic, accurate or complete?

2. When you receive a complaint about your FCA’s professional conduct or their “fitness to practice” (they have the skills, knowledge and character to practise their profession safely and effectively) what evidence do you accept worthy of investigation?

3. How do you ensure that a service users complaint regarding a FCA's professional conduct is taken seriously? Subjective and discriminative behaviour or remarks of the CFA can not be checked in the case file or history as they would not necessary be there i.e. it might have happened during a face to face interview. This process therefore leaves the service user incredibly vulnerable as the procedure would come down to "he said-she said" with Cafcass trusting and believing its own staff enabling it to close down the investigation therefore also abdicating its own accountability. How do you make sure this does not happen?

4. How many complaints did you receive in the past year about any FCA’s professional conduct or their “fitness to practice”? i.e. discrimination, subjective comments etc

5. How many of them did you uphold?

6. Also during an investigation what does it mean that your "FCA maintained the 'golden thread' in respect of risk issues"? What is the "golden thread"? Do you have a certain procedure to follow regarding certain risk factors?

7. If so, what is the 'golden thread' for DV allegations?

8. And what is 'golden thread' for Parental Alienation allegations?

Yours sincerely,

Eva nagy

Governance, Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Nagy,

 

Thank you for your email.

 

Please accept this as formal acknowledgement of your Freedom of
Information request which was received by Cafcass on 20 September 2018.

 

Your reference number is CAF 18-100.

 

We aim to respond to your promptly, and at the latest 20 working days from
receipt of your request. You will therefore receive a response on or
before 17 October 2018.

 

Kind regards,

 

Governance Team | Cafcass

* [1][CAFCASS request email] | ü [2]www.cafcass.gov.uk 

[3]Cafcass_Logo_2014_email

 

 

 

 

 

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Governance, Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service

2 Attachments

Dear Ms Nagy,

 

Thank you for your email. Please find attached our response to your
Freedom of Information request.

 

Kind regards,

 

Governance Team | Cafcass

* [1][CAFCASS request email] | ü [2]www.cafcass.gov.uk 

[3]Cafcass_Logo_2014_email

 

 

 

Cafcass email addresses have changed to end in @cafcass.gov.uk. Please
ensure you update your address book. For more information on this change
please see our  [4]website

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