The Minister of Health and Social Services v The Mother

CourtRoyal Court
JudgeSir Michael Birt
Judgment Date05 March 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] JRC 51A
Date05 March 2015

[2015] JRC 51A




Sir Michael Birt, Commissioner, sitting alone.



The Minister of Health and Social Services
The Mother

Advocate S. M. Roberts for the Minister.

Advocate M. J. Haines for the Respondent.


Children (Jersey) Law 2002.

Re B (Emergency Protection Order) [2008] JRC 026A.

Care proceedings — application by the Minister for an emergency protection order.


On 9 th February, 2015, I granted the application for an Emergency Protection Order (“EPO”) in respect of Imogen (this is not her real name) who has just attained the age of seven. What follows constitutes my reasons for that decision.


In anticipation of the hearing, the Court had ordered that a guardian be appointed for Imogen, but due to the shortage of time, the appointment had only just been made and the appointed guardian had been unable to begin work. Fortunately, Mrs Ferguson, the Manager of JFCAS, had read the papers and attended the hearing in order to listen to the evidence and submissions. Having done so she gave evidence to express her views. The Court was grateful for her participation.


There had initially been some uncertainty as to whether the Minister would be applying for an interim care order or an EPO. Accordingly, the Court had been constituted with Jurats sitting as they were to be necessary had the application been for an interim care order. Unfortunately the Court was not informed that the Minister would only be applying for an EPO and Advocate Haines confirmed at the hearing that he was not willing for the Court to consider the possibility of an interim care order as he had only come prepared to challenge an EPO. Because the decision to grant an EPO is conferred by statute on the Bailiff alone, the presence of the Jurats was therefore not necessary. Nevertheless, with the agreement of the parties, they remained to hear the evidence and submissions. It transpired that they agreed with my decision that an EPO was required but, as required by Article 37 of the Children (Jersey) Law 2002 (“the Law”), the decision was mine alone.


The Minister's application was brought because of an incident on 28 th January, 2015, when Imogen was taken to hospital. I shall describe that shortly but, in order to put the application in context, it is necessary to refer briefly to some of the background to the case.


The Court had the benefit of a report by Jane Bartlett, the social worker in the Children's Service allocated to Imogen. Unfortunately she was unavailable at the hearing but evidence was given on behalf of the Children's Service by Sarah Rae, the interim team manager for the statutory team in the Children's Service. The Court also had the benefit of evidence from Dr Love, a forensic physician who is a specialist in the area of child sex abuse. As well as producing three reports, she also gave oral evidence by video link and was cross-examined by Advocate Haines.


I take the background from the report of Ms Bartlett supplemented by the oral evidence of Ms Rae.


The mother is 33 years old. She herself was brought up in the care system from the age of seven and sadly experienced familial abuse as a child. She has had four children. The older two sons have been adopted and the third lives with his father. Imogen is the youngest and is now seven.


The Children's Service has been involved for substantial periods since Imogen's birth. She has been placed on the child protection register under the category of neglect on three separate occasions. However she was removed from the register in June 2014 although she remains as a “Child in Need”. However, prior to the incident on 28 th January, 2015, professionals supporting the family were becoming increasingly concerned about the deterioration of the mother's parenting of Imogen, particularly in relation to Imogen's emotional development.


It is said that the mother has deep-seated difficulties of her own and often blames Imogen for these difficulties in Imogen's presence. This will be causing emotional harm to Imogen by damaging her confidence and self-esteem. It is said that this had been an on-going issue for practitioners, school, CAMHS and family support staff working with the mother and Imogen. Selected examples are as follows:–

  • (i) On 28 th February, 2014, during a visit by Ms Bartlett, the household was in chaos at tea-time. There were four visitors and Imogen was refusing to sit at the table to eat her tea. The mother was shouting at her and urged Ms Bartlett to go and tell her saying “see what I have to put up with”. In due course as Imogen was beginning to settle, she was lying on the floor of the living area and the mother stated “don't kick me, don't kick me”. It had not been apparent that Imogen had this in mind. However she then made a half-hearted waving of her leg towards her mother as the suggestion had been made to her, whereupon the mother said “see what I mean”.

    (ii) On 11 th June, 2013, and 11 th November, 2013, when Imogen was in earshot, the mother had requested that the Children's Service take her into care.

  • (iii) On 2 nd July, 2013, at a meeting at CAMHS when Imogen was present, the mother threatened to jump out of a window during a therapy session, stating that she could not cope and blaming Imogen for her state of mind.

  • (iv) During an appointment with Dr Mark Jones on 7 th January, 2015, the mother, again in Imogen's presence, repeated her concerns that Imogen may suffer from ADHD, Asperger's syndrome and other health conditions which, the mother said, caused Imogen to have a lack of awareness of danger and to be very oppositional to the mother. It was reported that when she returned to school following that appointment, Imogen was in a kind of haze as if she was not really there. Ms Bartlett expressed the opinion that Imogen would have come away from that appointment overwhelmed by what had happened there.

  • (v) In a letter dated 23 rd July, 2013, to the Children's Service, Dr Posner, of CAMHS, who has been meeting regularly with the mother and Imogen, referred to the mother's obstinacy and failure to take advice. Dr Posner has heard the mother talk in front of Imogen about the idea that there is something wrong with Imogen. Dr Posner considers that this perpetual search for an underlying reason for normal childhood behaviour is likely to erode Imogen's self-esteem. She considers that Imogen has an insecure avoidant attachment with the mother. There is a lack of joyful connection between the mother and Imogen and Imogen appears not to be relaxed; it is as if she is waiting for the next criticism to come along from her mother. Dr Posner expressed the view that it is widely evidenced that children learn a lot about who they are and how to behave from their primary attachment figure. Dr Posner's worry is that the longer that Imogen is exposed to the mother's way of doing things, the harder it will be for Imogen herself to change. Should the mother continue to interact with Imogen in the way that Dr Posner has observed, Dr Posner would have concerns for the long-term impact on Imogen's sense of self-worth, her capacity to manage her own emotions and her skills at managing her social relationships.


Another area of concern for the Children's Service has been the mother's inability to recognise risk. The mother's background has meant that she has been personally vulnerable through her lifestyle and associated relationships. Her personal relationships have been mostly highly emotionally dysfunctional and characterised by violence, which has consistently had an impact on her ability to be available for her...

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1 cases
  • Minister for Health and Social Services v The Mother
    • Jersey
    • Royal Court
    • 11 April 2016
    ...Fifth Respondents. Advocate R. S. Tremoceiro for the Sixth Respondent. Authorities In the matter of Imogen (Emergency Protection Order) [2015] JRC 051A . In the matter of Imogen (Care proceedings) [2015] JRC 247 . Re F and G (No2) [2010] JCA 051 . Children (Jersey) Law 2002. Care order — ap......

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