Initially Child Services closed the case after the Police interviewed my grandson but this was conducted inappropriately according to the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner who highlighted the very real risks to my grandson. He wrote: Urgent safeguarding referral, concluding his letter to the Chief Constable and the Head of Child Services, "To be absolutely clear, I would like this letter to be a record of inter alia, 'The fact that I consider James Simpson to be at risk of sexual harm in his father's unsupervised presence, and I request that this is logged as a safeguarding referral.'"
This forced the police to reopen a case that they had closed in December, which prompted social services also to close their case offering no support for my daughter. Following continued disclosures to her and James' half sister, my daughter sought advice from Child Services on 2 occasions but was told that they couldn't help.
Following James' violent, aggressive behaviour and continued disclosures about abuse by his father, my daughter sent several emails pleading for help to the local safeguarding office but these were lost and an apology was received for the failure to respond 4 months later.
When the case reopened, the child service officer ignored the allegations sexual abuse by the father and accused my daughter of not moving on, suggesting that she was emotionally abusing her child - even after the child services officer attended a police interview of James under appropriate conditions and in my daughter's absence, when he again disclosed, now recorded on camera. She stated that the disclosures were "out of context". A letter from James' nursery also confirmed that James had disclosed at school about sexual abuse by the father.
The police subsequently informed my daughter that despite these disclosures, they could take no further action unless new information came to light as they had previously interviewed the father. That decision was then provided to my daughter's ex-husband in a letter.
A Child Protection Conference was then held and a child protection order was made for James at the recommendation of the child services officer - the allegations of sexual abuse were left for the courts to decide on.
However, the order cited emotional abuse by both parents and a guardian has been appointed. My daughter was criticised for not moving on, despite supportive letters from her GP who stated that access to the father must be supervised. A similar letter from a child therapist to whom James disclosed repeated incidents of sexual abuse by his father was also discounted. He had recommended strongly that any access to the father (who had now applied to the courts for access) must be supervised. Finally, the father threatened to sue the Dorset Police & Crime Commissioner over his letter alleging child abuse.
As my daughter is on benefits supplements by maintenance, she has met the costs of a solicitor and a barrister by using her overdraft, taking out a loan and paying my credit card. My wife and I (both pensioners) have met the costs of a barrister at the last court hearing, and her solicitor - circa £7,000 - but we have run out of cash.
Although we were told by the Citizens Advice Legal Aid team that my daughter qualified for legal aid, our solicitor says the fact that my daughter was cited on the Protection order for emotional abuse means that she does not qualify for legal aid. However, we have been informed by the Practice Safeguarding Officer of my daughter's GP that the Child Protection Report submitted by the Child Protection officer was unsigned and hence was an illegal document. This document was also not discussed with my daughter before the Child Protection Conference as it should have been.
Sorry to be so lengthy, but the situation is complex, and failures by both Police and Child Services have made an already difficult situation more difficult for my daughter who is only trying to protect her child. Without legal support, it seems that she will be unable to protect her child from abuse. Bot***** *****ne, can she obtain legal aid as the Citizen's Advice Legal Aid team suggest she is entitled to?