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I am copying into you some advice notes on Case Conferences written up by an
experienced campaigner. They may prove useful and hopefully enlightening you on the
process. My best piece of advice in addition is to keep notes - ideally take a friend along
as independent witness to the conference and definitely check the minutes of the meeting
they take with your side’s notes as sometimes they will differ substantially:
CASE CONFERENCES: Advice Note
1) You must have an invitation, delivered by hand.
2) Any questions you have should be able to be asked of the person giving you the
3) You are entitled to read any reports from social workers or other agencies before going
into the conference. Days in advance should be demanded.
4) A list of all the people attending the conference is included with the invitation, if there
is anyone on it you have problems with, tell the social worker, if your friend/supporter or
solicitor is not on it, ask why.
5) Do not sit quietly on the sidelines, your future life is being determined by people who
go home at night to a family, not concerned about how you feel.
6) Half an hour before going into the meeting, you will be invited to talk through, with
the Chairman of the conference, how it all operates. Ask all the questions and do not let
him or her think it will be just a rubber stamping exercise, it will be if you let it!
7) The perception to the outside world is given that these Social Services conferences are
a means for parents to be heard and their views to be taken on board. The truth though is
that the outcome and plan of action has probably been sorted out prior to you even being
8) Never allow your anger to get in the way of your determination to get a life back,
channel all this aggression into supporting other members of your family who may be
unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It may be dim but it is there!
9) Be firm and resolute, in your questions and do not be bullied by the Social Service
members of the conference. They will not expect you to produce a counter report against
theirs, so that might be worth doing, especially if you have a solicitor involved in
10) Stick to the old adage, give them an inch and they take a mile. The Social Services
only use Case Conferences to prop up their belief that they are the only law of the land.
When you pull them up, which you will, if you are determined to, the look of
incomprehension on their faces makes you feel much better. The possibility that they may
be wrong never enters their heads, probably because of all the other baggage they are
11) When the Social Services Case Conference ends, make sure you confirm when you
will receive both the protection plan and the minutes, you can put complaints in if they
are late or incorrect.
12) Most of the tools to use against the Social Services over zealousness and fabrication
are easy to use and by costing them time and monies, will ultimately lead to the inquiries
of the higher authorities.
13) Keep in mind that actually taking to court a Social Worker is almost impossible, so
they have a lot of power. The only way to reduce this power is by showing them you will
not stand for inaccurate reports; they have to attach your comments and concerns to all
the documents put before conferences and court.
Acknowledgement to: www.legalsurvival.co.uk
Comments from PAIN
1. When you go to a case conference meeting, get a list of everyone who attends the
meeting and their title and position. Get everyone's contact details (address is usually
good enough). Take notes of who says what during the meeting and preferably secretly
record the meetings, but don't disclose that you are recording the meeting and don't
disclose the recording in the future. The recording is your own personal record. You can
use the recording to "top up" your notes. After the meeting, write a summary of what was
said and send it to everyone checking to see that what your notes reflect are actually what
they want you to understand. The law on recording conversations is so vague (which is
good). There is no law stopping you from recording a conversation, but the laws tell you
what you can and can't do with the recording. It would be ideal to ask everyone for
permission to record, but the answer is usually "no" so don't bother asking.
2. If you treat the recording in a way that you would want to be treated if you were
secretly recorded, you should be ok. In the same way that you wouldn't want the
recording distributed without permission, the people in the meeting feel the same way.
3. If you think that the decision made in the case conference was “unsound” you must
appeal. Please contact us for further information if you wish to appeal.