Analysis: Simple strands that can help ensure the safety of children
LOCAL authorities must consider the best interests of children under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is implemented in both devolved and reserved legislation throughout the UK.
Where there is a risk of harm to a child as a result of their parents’ care, local authorities must step in.
Often parents who have drug or alcohol addictions struggle with providing care for their children.
In England and Wales, hair strand analysis is used to monitor parents with addictions to ascertain whether they have remained clean over a period of months.
This can give the courts a more accurate account of their likelihood to relapse than blood analysis can.
While this could be seen as an intrusion into the privacy of the parent, by essentially placing a monitor on them, where safeguards are in place, analysis can provide an impetus for parents to remain clean and to have their children returned to them.
However, it can only be a justified interference with privacy rights when a court is satisfied that the monitoring requirement is necessary, because there is a significant risk of harm to the child, in the context of assessment of whether a child should be taken into, or remain in, local authority care.
• Jodie Blackstock is director of criminal and EU justice policy with the human rights campaign group Justice
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