CAFCASS is a major source of injustice for children and APs. Make no mistake about that.
The reasons are these.
Firstly, the training of CAFCASS officers is woeful. Courses in PA are only optional. And the uptake of these courses is lamentable – only 2% of caseworkers take this course (https://voiceofthechild.org.uk/kb/cafcass-parental-alienation-webinar-training/). Well, Mr Douglas of CAFCASS says that CAFCASS officers are very busy – but not too busy to attend courses on reclaiming their expenses – the uptake for those courses is rather better [link to https://voiceofthechild.org.uk/cafcass-douglas-and-the-high-conflict-pathway]
Second, CAFCASS is institutionally gender-biased. In July 2017, CAFCASS produced a report
. Leaving aside a critique for the moment, it is deeply concerning that CAFCASS chose to involve Women’s Aid, but not one group that represents men. The problem is not just the report itself, but in the narrowness of the consultation.
Third, CAFCASS are only now waking up to PA, despite it having been around for thirty years in its current form.
Fourth – Wishes and Feelings Reports
These are a waste of time and money in PA cases, for the reasons we describe in our case law introduction page, and should be abandoned. We should judge a child’s capacity to consent to their estrangement from you using something like the Gillick test of competence.