§ Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What plans they have to improve the family court welfare work of the Probation Service and other related services.
§ Lord Williams of Mostyn
As part of the comprehensive spending review, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, my right honourable and noble friend the Lord Chancellor, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales are considering the range of services currently provided to the courts on child welfare matters within family law by the Probation Service, Guardian ad Litem and Reporting Officer Service and the Official Solicitor's Department. We believe that a new integrated service subsuming the work of each of the above could provide an improved service to the courts, better safeguard the interests of children, reduce wasteful overlaps and so increase efficiency.
The Home Secretary has therefore agreed with his right honourable friends that further detailed work involving practitioners and other users of the services should be undertaken to form the basis for public consultation.
The detailed terms of reference for the work are as follows:
To identify the range of welfare services currently provided by the Probation Service, Guardian ad Litem and Reporting Officer Service and the children's work of the Official Solicitor's Department and other agencies in family proceedings, and to consider the scope for improvements to the effectiveness of their work through the creation of a new unified service.
To make proposals on the structure of a new service; to provide preliminary analysis of the estimated costs and benefits as a basis for public consultation; and to consider the implications for any new structure of the Government's plans to establish a Welsh Assembly.