Thursday, 9 May 2013

Care Proceedings - the rise continues

Cafcass, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, has made another press release about the number of applications for care orders in England. They tell us that:

  • In April 2013, Cafcass received a total of 908 applications.
  • This is a 20% increase on April 2012, and the highest ever recorded by Cafcass for the month of April.
  • Between April 2012 and March 2013 Cafcass received a total of 11,064 applications.
  • This figure is 8% higher when compared to 2011-12.
  • The 999 applications received in February 2013 were the highest ever recorded for a single month.

Of course these figures pose more puzzles than they solve. We could speculate all day on why the steady increase continues unabated, but we really need research to gain a proper understanding of what is happening. Is there any evidence that thresholds are being lowered or nets widened? Are courts dealing with cases consistently or is their practice changing? Are demographics a factor? We simply do not know.

I can’t help feeling that policy makers are sitting there hoping that what goes up must come down. But we could be sleep walking into a situation where it becomes no longer possible to resource the increases in work.