The family bar welcomed the appointment of an independent children’s commissioner, but called for a boost in resources in the courts to speed up cases.

“The family bar warmly welcomes the Government focussing on the important issues of children in this way, which ties in with their earlier initiatives on adoption and domestic violence,” commented Andrew McFarlane QC, chairman of the Family Law Bar Association, on the publication of the green paper ‘Every Child Matters’, which promoted a new commissioner role to act as a champion of children at every level of Government.

McFarlane said that the Prime Minister’s initiative “to revitalise the social work profession” was a key element. “Social work professionals should be regarded in the same way as doctors and nurses rather than undervalued, as they are at present,” he said. “Improved coordination between the relevant agencies should form an essential part, making sure there is no repetition of the Victoria Climbie tragedy.”

McFarlane also took the opportunity to call for increased investment in the courts. “Resources need to be put into the court service so that there’s an increased number of judges and courtrooms available to deal with children cases far more swiftly than at present,” he stated.