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File on 4 casts doubt on Cafcass figures

Programme suggests that true picture has been concealed

BBC Radio 4’s current affairs programme File on 4 was last week devoted to Cafcass’s efforts to cope with the unprecedented caseload imposed upon it, and the consequences for the care system.

Staff within Cafcass told the programme that the service's official caseload figures were concealing the true picture of the crisis because staff members were being given a massive caseload. The programme claimed that it had seen data revealing that more cases were being allocated to managers in areas which have a high backlog of cases.

Anthony Douglas, the chief executive of Cafcass, described the suggestion that managers were being given extra caseloads as "completely fictitious". He said: "Of course there are cases that sit with a manager to have a first look at them before they are allocated, sometimes it takes a week before they are allocated, sometimes two weeks but what is important for me to get over is that these cases are not sitting for long periods of time with managers and that managers are not becoming quasi practitioners. It is simply not true."

Ann Haigh, Chair of Nagalro, responding to the programme, said: “It is particularly worrying if we cannot trust the figures Cafcass produces about how many children are waiting for a service.”

A summary of the programme and a link to the broadcast via the BBC iPlayer can be found here