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Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor/Partner
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 2850
Experience:  Partner in national law firm
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My son has been pulled up by social services and the police

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My son has been pulled up by social services and the police for reprimanding his step son over lying. The child went to school and said his step father hit him round the head. Yes he give him a clip round the ear but it was not child beating as they are trying to make out. Since the incident the child has gone to his father in wales. We have contacted a solicitor who will represent him later today when he is interviewed under caution. They have said they suspect that it will be just a caution but I'm aware that this can cause serious issues in the future. There is no evidence no marks the child has 100% attendance at school and is well looked after and a straight a student of 12yrs old. Can you advise what will happen if he does not accept the caution as this will affect his employment.

Alex Hughes : My name is***** and I'm happy to help with your question today. I need to ask you some preliminary questions to be able to help you.
Alex Hughes : Are there any witnesses to this incident?

His partner the child's Mother

Alex Hughes : Has she given a statement about this?

She has spoken to a civilian police investigator who came to the house but it was not a formal interview and nothing was written down. Further she went and spoke to the school prior to going to the house. I believe their was a police liaison officer at the school when the child was telling them what had happened. this was prior to the Mother being asked to attend the school.

Alex Hughes : The police can only offer a caution if your son admits the offence. He seems to be saying that his actions amount to reasonable chastisement. Therefore, he is denying the offence. The police will then have to decide whether the account given by this step son is credible and reliable - if it is not then they are unlikely to take the matter any further and that will be the end of the case. In this regard the mother is crucial - her evidence if it supports your son will help to get the case dropped. If she supports the stepson in terms of excessive force then clearly it will be a problem.

I should have mentioned that the child has stated 4 other incidents when he has been push or clip round the ear this is over a 10 year period. Also he does not feel the Mother supports him against the my son.


Therefore what should he say " that he felt it was reasonable chastisement " and that he does not accept the charge and if so what will be the next step


They are also saying that you must never hit a child round the head only bottom or legs

Alex Hughes : That is not helpful. Even if your son denies the allegation there is clearly a history. The police are more likely to want to charge him if he does not accept a caution. The fact that the mother supports the child is not helpful either.

No the child is saying the mother does not support him

Alex Hughes : One incident of a clip round the ear would probably be reasonable chastisement. Several incidents over 10 years is unlikely to be considered "reasonable".

The mother has said that it did happen they asked if the child cried and he did not and she did not think it was unreasonable

Alex Hughes : If the mother does not support the child then your son should really say nothing. Without his admission they only have the child's account of what happened. The police are very unlikely to prosecute when the only evidence is a nun corroborated account of a child.
Alex Hughes : Your son has the right to silence. Saying nothing means the police have to prove the case with other evidence. Only the child's account exists. They are unlikely to prosecute on his word alone.

As I say there were no marks or bruises it was not unfair as the child had bullied his 6yr old sister into taking the blame. There has also been issues with the child wanting to live with his father that the mother has opposed

Alex Hughes : There is clearly no evidence corroborating the child's account. I think your son should seriously consider not saying anything. If he accepts giving the boy a clip round the ear, this will not help him. He could be prosecuted on this admission alone. If he is offered a caution and does not accept then the only options are to drop the case or prosecute - the latter is more likely. However, if he says nothing the police are unlikely to prosecute on the child's word alone.

Thanks for that advice I think we now know what to do although it is still unclear what the procedure is if he does not accept the caution.

Alex Hughes : The police can only offer a caution if your son admits the allegation. If he says nothing or denies the allegation the police will either charge or drop the case. My view is that they're likely to drop the matter if he says nothing because the case relates to a minor assault, based on the in corroborated account of a child.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Apparently the mother has said that my son did clip the child and they did write that down. However this was not under caution. In your opinion what would be the best thing to do or say saying nothing after this could be seen as guilt

The mothers account is inadmissible at present. Her evidence is 'hearsay' and would probably be excluded. Her evidence would only become admissible if she makes a written statement, signed with a statement of truth. As she is not a suspect the fact that the conversation was not under caution is irrelevant. At this stands my view has not changed - this is still a case of a uncorroborated allegation made by a child. My view remains that your son should give some serious thought to not answering questions and thus avoid adding to the case against himself.
Alice H and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
How did you get on?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Alex


We went to the police station and there was no caution on offer. He is being summons to Hastings magistrates court probably at the end of September. The child had written three pages of evidence at the school mostly not true. The solicitor advised my son to give a no comment interview under caution on Saturday. I am unsure what will happen now. I assume the magistrate will decide if it needs to go to crown court and I am unsure if he will have to do an statement prior to this to the court. We are really worried my son is in a terrible state and had a panic attack afterwards and had to go to the hosipital. I should also mention he has no previous convictions of any kind. Not sure if you can give any more advice?

Good morning

Saying nothing was the correct thing to do.

Whether the case goes to the Crown Court will depend on the charge.

From the description you've given the charge is likely to be common assault - this can only be tried in the Magistrates Court.

If he is prosecuted for child cruelty the case could go to the Crown Court for trial by Judge and jury.

Unfortunately your son will have to wait now until the summons arrives.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you! I am just unsure will the summons show what he is charged with and will he have the opportunity to do a statement prior to going to magistrates court.

The summons will show the exact charge and a summary if the evidence.

The first hearing will be to enter a plea.

If you son denies the allegation and pleads not guilty the case will be adjourned to a new date for trial.

He can put forward his defence at trial.

If he decides to plead guilty then he can submit a statement at the first hearing.

On receipt of the summons he will need further legal advice to make an informed decision on plea.

If he pleads not guilty and loses the case the penalty will be more severe than if he pleads guilty at the first hearing.

The reason for this is that people who plead guilty at the first hearing save time and money and this is reflected in their sentence.

I am following up our conversation to see how you got on with the issue. If you need any further help then please let me know - remember I am a qualified UK Solicitor and able to help on most aspects of English Law. I am London based and usually able to respond to your query very quickly.

Alex Hughes
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Alex


Thank you it seems that we have to wait now until he receives the summons. Either way it looks as though he can not win. Can you tell me if the CPS will be involved before he receives the summons and if so I would think this will determine his plea.


Further they have had social services contact them again and say this is just a bump in the road. I find it very difficult to believe they have said that. They are willing to take parenting classes but both my son and his partner are so devastated about this issue they are both on tranquilizers and my son has been signed off for 2 weeks as he is in such state.


The child has given 3 pages of written evidence mostly untrue. This was done at the school before his Mother was called and they did not know about it until my son was interviewed under caution.


The childs Father has been in contact telling them that he is speaking to SS but SS are saying they are not in contact with him. All very muddled at the moment and unclear what will happen. My son is very worried that he will lose his job at AMEX he has a very good job with good career prospects in the future. They have been very supportive and he has been able to access counselling through them. However it is good to check with you if we are being given the right advice. I have learnt it is better to have 2 opinions than just one in a situation like this.