Many infants taken from their mothers in hospital within hours or days of delivery
‘The number of newborn babies removed from their parents in care proceedings in England has increased by 136% in the past nine years, according to a report.
Evidence published on Wednesday has revealed that 2,447 newborns were subject to care proceedings within one week of birth from 2016 to 2017, compared with 1,039 in 2007-08. Over the nine-year period, a total of 16,849 newborns were subject to care proceedings.
The research also found that almost a third – 32% – of all infants coming before the courts in care proceedings did so as newborns in 2007-08. By 2017-18, this proportion had risen to 42%.
Newborns have been invisible in national data before this report: there are no figures on infants subject to care proceedings, despite government policy emphasising the developmental importance of children in this age group. National data reports only on the single category of infants “aged less than one year”.
The study was led by Prof Karen Broadhurst, the director of the Centre for Child and Family Justice Research, who first highlighted the dramatic rise in newborns taken into care in 2015.
She said: “The lack of data is surprising, given the controversy that surrounds compulsory action at birth, which will often lead to infant removals within hours or days of delivery – whether such decisions are proportionate or fair – after care for the mother. This is a hugely contentious issue, with published family court judgments evidencing the legal and procedural challenges.”’