The ‘common purpose paradox’: a critical examination of the interface between the police and the family court in child protection cases

Sambrook, Christopher Ian (2012) The ‘common purpose paradox’: a critical examination of the interface between the police and the family court in child protection cases. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    In November 2011 David Norgrove concluded his government sponsored review of the policies and practices inherent to the family justice system. The final report attracted considerable political and media attention, not least because it described a system characterised by significant process delays. Norgrove chronicled child care cases that were taking so long to conclude that further harm was being caused to the very children the system purported to protect. This dissertation recognises that these delayed cases are often those where the family court, or more specifically the local authority with responsibility for the care proceedings, seeks the disclosure of criminal case evidence in support of their own civil processes. Delay occurs when they encounter reluctance on the part of the police make such a disclosure.

    The aim of this study has been to shed light on this previously under researched and poorly understood relationship; firstly by describing the coming together of the police, local authority and the family court at what the author describes as the ‘judicial interface’ and secondly, by overlaying these observations on to Bauman’s theory of morality and then applying a ‘social harm’ perspective, to consider its significance in terms of our overall understanding of contemporary child protection practice.

    Drawing on primary research, including interviews with those engaged on either side of the interface and an analysis of police derived disclosure data, the study reveals a pattern that often characterises cases where there are concurrent criminal and family court proceedings. Out of this pattern emerges a key feature that the author terms the ‘common purpose paradox’, a force that both draws together and forces apart those key agencies engaged in child protection.

    The dissertation concludes by suggesting that the study has revealed characteristics of the judicial interface not previously described and by making practice recommendations that may be of value as part of the professional debate about future child protection and family court practice that will inevitably follow the publication of Norgrove’s findings.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2013 11:40
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:16

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