The two children were cared for by a neighbour who reported that they were extremely dirty and their clothes smelled strongly of stale urine. The mother was also said to be in a poor condition. A post mortem revealed that the youngest child had died of malnutrition.
There was evidence that the mother’s mental health had suffered as a result of her marriage at 13 or 14 in Somaliland. Her husband was reportedly abusive and she had her first child at 15. At the time of the child’s death the mother was being pressured to enable her husband to enter the UK.
In the care proceedings the father put himself forward as a potential carer for the children. The issue therefore arose of what further assessment if any there should be of the father.
The local authority initially proposed to identify a Somali speaking social worker to travel to Somaliland to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the father. However, advice received from the Foreign and Common Office as well as Children and Families Across Borders advised that it would be too dangerous to do so. The local authority inevitably concluded that they could not send a social worker to conduct an assessment.
The circumstances surrounding the children’s removal could not be divorced from the issue of the requested assessment and the wider canvass of the children’s lived. They had been subjected to profound trauma and were likely to face considerable challenges in the future. Even if it were possible to surmount the obstacles connected with conducting an assessment of the father, his proposal would be to take the children to a country and culture entirely alien to them and one in which the kind of therapeutic support they needed would be unavailable. The children’s needs and timescales could not be accommodated by the father’s case. Further assessment of the father was not ordered.
The full judgment is available here