Skip to main content

BASW England hails legal win on children's rights

Ruling finds Government wrongfully changed safeguards by not consulting sector

BASW England congratulates Article 39 for succeeding in this major legal case, and applauds their tireless fight to safeguard children’s rights. With many others, we were part of the campaign to reinstate the rights of children in care lost through Statutory Instrument 445.

BASW England is delighted to learn of the Court of Appeal’s ruling, which found that it was unlawful for the Secretary of State for Education to bypass the Children’s Commissioner for England and other agencies and organisations representing the rights and interests of children and young people in care when introducing secondary legislation which both removed and weakened over 60 safeguards.  

Depriving children of their hard-won rights was not only morally wrong, but also defied the very purpose of statutory safeguarding. The impact of COVID-19 has increased risks to children  in every sphere of life, which has resulted in 30% of children now living in poverty, a dramatic increase in domestic abuse , and a steep decline mental health  – all of which coincide with unprecedented cuts to services in a context of austerity.

At a time where children are more vulnerable than ever, efforts should have been made to increase, not decrease, such protective measures. 

It is deeply regrettable that the Government failed to consult children, care experienced young people, parents made more vulnerable due to COVID, and those who promote and protect the rights of children, including the Childrens Commissioner.

Furthermore, front line social workers, who have worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic, were not consulted. It is unfathomable that such key decisions were made without the expertise of the very professionals whose role is to safeguard children.

We urge the government to work in partnership with care experienced people, children’s rights organisations, BASW England and allied stakeholders in all future decisions pertaining to children’s welfare and legal rights, to ensure that they are made in their best interests.

Upholding and protecting children’s rights must be non-negotiable. No child in England must be deprived of their legal and human rights, many of which were built up over several decades, ever again.