A welcome and overdue opening to care proceedings in court

The UK's court rooms have been closed shops when it comes to family and care proceedings. Over the years we have seen a catalogue of issues and questionable cases relying on equally questionable 'expert' witnesses.

There has been a very gradual shift to open family proceedings but today has seen the first step in the right direction for care - or 'protection' - hearings as they are now known, after a handful of media organisations succeeded in their bid to be allowed to scrutinise and (subject to restrictions) report on care proceedings.

Mr Justice Jackson will provide his reasoning tomorrow but for today he ruled that private court hearing in protection cases could be open to scrutiny and reporting.

The case in question involved Hillingdon's council decisions relating to the care of an autistic boy and his father's campaign to be allowed to keep him at home.

More from Guardian here

Mediabeak thinks this is a welcome and overdue move - it could be that the reasoning delivered by Mr Justice Jackson tomorrow does seek to limit this very narrowly to the facts of this particular case but even if it does it represents a step in the right direction. Both the family and care (protection) courts need to be open to scrutiny - such scrutiny - or reporting - does not need to mean that vulnerable people or sensitive situations are fully exposed or reported on but what is DOES mean is that the proceedings and those providing evidence in relation to them and making decisions about them are subject to scrutiny. Having seen what has happened in family courts in the past this is both a necessary and welcome move in the administration of justice and fairness to those who the courts are - supposedly - seeking to protect.

Related comment - Time to open up (family court reporting)

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