Whewell, Emma, Heenan, Susan, Owen, Robert, Chudry, Farooq and Percy-Smith, Barry (2015) Children's Social Care: A Preliminary Evaluation of Two Judge-led pre-Proceedings Protocols. Family Law, 45 (7). pp. 751-760. ISSN 0014-7281

In April 2013, a team of researchers at the University of the West of England, Bristol was asked to monitor a pre-proceedings protocol that was about to be introduced in the field of Children’s Social Care by the Designated Family Judge for Bristol. Shortly afterwards, the team was asked to appraise a pre-proceedings protocol that had already been introduced by the Designated Family Judge for Cheshire & Merseyside.

The pre-proceedings protocols were similar to each other but not identical. The intention behind them both, however, was to bring about a change in the approach of local authorities and courts to chronic and multi-issue cases.

The researchers undertook a quantitative and qualitative exploratory study in Bristol and Chester between December 2013 and December 2014. They set out to understand the procedural changes that were made following the introduction of the pre-proceedings protocols and to consider whether the protocols had reduced the time taken to conclude care proceedings and led to improvements for families and children. The researchers analysed raw data and spoke to parents, judges and professionals working within the family justice system.

The article discusses the study and offers a preliminary evaluation of the impact and effectiveness of the two pre-proceedings protocols.

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