SOUTHEND Council has put 152 children up for adoption against the wishes of their parents in the last ten years, a freedom of information request has revealed.

In the last five years, the authority has been involved in enforced adoption court proceedings for 97 children aged from birth to eight years old. This is a sharp rise from the 55 forcibly adopted in the previous five years and comes in the wake of the Baby P scandal, which rocked social services.

The figures were revealed in a Freedom of Information request by the Echo, after our reports on grandparents who are fighting a court decision to forcibly adopt their three-year-old granddaughter.

The couple from Shoebury are set to appeal the decision they were not allowed to take care of the youngster after their daughter, the child’s mother, was hospitalised with mental health issues.

The Echo also reported how a 17-year-old vulnerable mum also had her son, who was born in June last year, taken for adoption.

Despite acknowledging her efforts to care for her son, a judge ruled on February 4 that he should be given to another family.

Ian Josephs, who set up a website to fight forced adoption, says the UK is unique in taking children away from their birth parents through the courts.

Mr Josephs, who has given advice to the Shoebury grandparents, said: “I don’t believe this is a reaction to the Baby P case because the number of children taken because of sexual or physical abuse fell after that case and the number taken because of emotional abuse doubled.

“It is a wicked thing to take children from law abiding citizens.

If parents have broken the law then all right, but if they have not broken the law then their children should not be taken away. It’s as simple as that.”

The council says it is working hard to ensure children are given the opportunity to remain with family members where possible.

There are currently 154 children either with grandparents or extended family through guardianship or child arrangement orders.

Anne Jones, councillor responsible for children and learning, said: “We have a very clear and important duty to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children in our care and to act decisively in the child’s best interests.

“This often involves intervening in complex family issues and taking tough decisions on behalf of the child. We work with partner agencies and consider all evidence available to us as to the history and capability of prospective carers and their suitability to raise children.

“Placing children in the care of relatives is our preference in all cases, but we can only do so when this is consistent with the welfare of a child. In all our work, our ultimate aim is to provide a caring, stable and permanent home for all children in our care. Where a child cannot remain with their family, then finding suitable adoptive parents that can provide a loving and lasting home is the best option, and we are always looking for more adoptive parents that can play this vital role.

“It should also be remembered that adoption orders are subject to judicial scrutiny and a decision of the courts.”

Grandparents fighting council to keep little girl from being adopted.

THE grandparents case in Shoebury prompted a lawyer to come forward to launch the initial stages of an appeal.

Karina Chetwynd, of John Copland and Son in Sheerness, Kent has waived her fees to represent the 70- year-old grandfather and 58- year-old grandmother in their bid for guardianship of their grand-daughter.

They believe they were unfairly discriminated against because of their age, something the council strongly denies.

The court used evidence they had slapped their own daughter’s legs when she was a child for a reason for them not to have custody of their grandaughter, despite this being an accepted form of chastisement at the time.

Ms Chetwynd has lodged an appeal which will be heard on August 21.

The grounds of appeal are the grandparents now have legal representation, the judge did not allow time for highly relevant expert evidence to be heard and that the judge did not appoint an independent social worker to assess the viability of the grandparents’ application to look after the child The grandfather is hopeful a recent access visit to see the child will not now be the last, as they had feared.

He said: “It was very hard seeing her for what we believed was the last time. We enjoyed it.

“We played games but they wouldn’t let us take any photos.

“We’ve only just heard about the appeal and we are hoping we can apply for guardianship and that we will be able to see our grandaughter again."



PETER Connelly, who became known as Baby P, died at the age of 17 months, after suffering more than 50 injuries in an eight-month period in 2008.

He was repeatedly seen by Haringey children’s services and NHS health professionals.

The case caused shock and concern among the public and in Parliament, partly because of the magnitude of Peter’s injuries, and partly because Peter had lived in the London Borough of Haringey, North London, under the same child care authorities that had failed ten years earlier in the case of Victoria Climbié.

That had led to a public inquiry which resulted in measures being put in place in an effort to prevent similar cases happening.

Peter’s mother Tracey Connelly, her boyfriend Steven Barker, and Jason Owen (Barker’s brother) were all convicted of causing or allowing the death of a child, the mother having pleaded guilty to the charge.

The shocking case is widely believed to be behind an increased vigilance by social services and a spike in the number of children taken into care.