The Emperor's New Clothes : Divorce Process & Consequence

ANNEX 4 : THE NAPO 'ANTI-SEXISM' POLICY & LACK OF AVAILABLE REMEDIES


Contents

Summary

1.

Critique of the NAPO 'Anti-sexism' Policy

2.

Submissions to Responsible Authorities (in 1997) and their Responses
Copies of most significant response letters
A brief report on a meeting, presenting these findings, with Geoff Hoon MP, Parliamentary Secretary in the Lord Chancellor's Dept

3.

Submission to Police / Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) (in 2001) and their Response

4.

Submission to Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) (in 2002) and their Response

 

Summary

Critique of the ‘Anti-sexism’ Policy

Court Welfare Officers (CWOs) produce reports for court cases under the Children Act 1989 (CA89). The reports are intended to present impartial objective evidence regarding the principles of CA89 Part I Section 1(1) i.e. of the children’s welfare.

A major professional body of CWOs is the National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO). NAPO’s ‘Anti-sexism’ policy [2] addresses the interests of women, and not those of men, and more importantly, nor of children. The policy clearly violates the CA89 principles, and so subverts the principles Parliament intended should be applied, and also those the public expect. The application of the policy in an individual case would also be the criminal offence of perverting the course of justice.

The NAPO policy is stated by NAPO [3] as not available for wide public distribution, and so the policy will apply principles to the individual’s case which are not to be known to the public.

The discrimination against men in family law, including that endemic in the Court Welfare Service, under ‘women’s rights’, is now well documented in our report The Emperor’s New Clothes [1], and the truth of the claims made is demonstrated by the content of the NAPO policy.

Submissions to Responsible Authorities (in 1997) and their Responses

The Cheltenham Group have made submissions to eight responsible authorities, asking them to address this issue with a view to instigating some remedies. The authorities are :

  • HM Inspectorate of Probation (HMiP), who referred the matter to :

  • the Home Office, Probation Unit (HOPU);

  • the Lord Chancellor’s Dept (LC’s Dept), who also referred the matter to HOPU;

  • the Law Society (LS);

  • the General Council of the Bar (BC), who referred the matter to :

  • the Family Law Bar Association (FLBA);

  • the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), who have requested a meeting with :

  • the National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO).

Not one of these bodies has accepted any responsibility for the effects of the policy, either for the correct interpretation of the law, for the subversion of Parliament’s principles, for the behaviour of their members with respect to this issue, or for the serious damage occurring to innocent individuals.

Submission to Police / Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) (in 2001) and their Response

The Police Service was approached during 2001 with regard to the criminal acts of subversion of the law, and perversion of the course of justice.

The police were initially reluctant to forward a report to CPS, but did so under pressure. The CPS refused to bring a prosecution for perversion of the course of justice. They offered no alternative law(s) under which action could be taken. It appears their opinion is, that there are no laws in the UK to deal with a body of people, in a sensitive position, who attempt to either subvert the law (in general) or pervert the course of justice (in individual cases).

We do not accept that there are no laws to deal with this, and believe that the lack of prosecution indicates political interference in the case.

Submission to Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) (in 2002) and their Response

The Court Welfare Service was subsumed within CAFCASS in 2001, so that a central body had responsibility for what were CWOs, now CAFCASS officers.

At a public CAFCASS meeting in Manchester, 27 May 2002, CAFCASS's Chairman, Anthony Hewson was asked to explain the situation. He asked his colleague Jonathan Tross to respond with their position, which was that acceptance of the policy was part of their 'diversity' policy. Subsequently Chairman Anthony Hewson was approached in writing, about how he would prevent the officers, for whom he had responsibility, from applying the NAPO 'Anti-sexism' policy, which would prevent them from subverting the law or perverting the course of justice in individual cases.

No satisfactory response was obtained by 21 August 2002, when we offered the story to the press/media.

Conclusions

The CWOs/CAFCASS officers within the family law system in the UK operate with a set of principles which are contrary to statutory provision and the concepts of natural justice, and not known to the public whose lives are affected by the policy.

Furthermore there appears to be no way of remedying the situation at present and means of doing so urgently needs to be sought.

Original report : 11 June 1998

Updated report : 21 August 2002

A hardcopy of the original report is available from the Cheltenham Group at 5.00 inclusive of p&p.

For further information you may contact :

The Cheltenham Group

PO Box 205, Cheltenham, Glos, GL51 0YL

 

Co-ordinator : Barry Worrall BSc MSc MBCS CEng


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