This report considers judgments from the higher courts over the period 2008–2018 which are relevant to the removal of newborns from their parents at birth or shortly afterwards. One aim of the report is to provide information to professionals (lawyers, social workers, health professionals) involved in making decisions as to whether a newborn should be removed, about the legal framework and its application in court in order to assist that decision-making process.
This paper is linked to Born into care: newborns in care proceedings in England (2018) and Borninto care: newborns and infants in care proceedings in Wales (2019), published by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory, which looked for the first time at the number of newborns subject to care proceedings in England and Wales, using population-level data held by Cafcass. The number of newborns subject to proceedings prompted considerations and questions about, among other things, practice in relation to pre-birth assessments and removal at birth and the legal framework and court decision making in such cases.
We have also published a rapid evidence review of practice in relation to pre-birth assessments and removal at birth.