£1.5m court costs for chil­dren at risk

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - What’s On -

Pro­tect­ing chil­dren at risk of abuse or harm will cost Kent County Coun­cil an es­ti­mated £1.5 mil­lion in court fees this year, fig­ures show.

KCC is fore­cast­ing it will have ini­ti­ated 288 new care pro­ceed­ings by the end of 2013-14, with each cost­ing on av­er­age £5,500 in court fees. That is 27 more than last year but less than in 2011-12, when cases peaked at 302.

Cllr Jenny Whit­tle (Con), KCC cab­i­net mem­ber for spe­cial­ist chil­dren’s ser­vices, said it only went to court to se­cure care or­ders when nec­es­sary. She added: “I do not think we are risk averse al­though I do think that in 2009-10 [the year of the Baby P scan­dal] we did, like other au­thor­i­ties, act more pre- ma­turely. I am look­ing at what we can do to en­sure chil­dren are re­turned to their fam­i­lies more quickly [but] ev­ery case is dif­fer­ent.”

KCC says the amount is be­ing af­fected by a re­quire­ment on coun­cils to speed up care pro­ceed­ings. They are now ex­pected to com­plete care pro­ceed­ings within 36 weeks.

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