WHAT CAN WE DO?
For every day of delay, 3 more parents, who are very likely in poverty and unable to meet CMS demands to pay, will take their own lives, leaving approx. 6 children with the trauma of premature parental death by suicide, and loss of that parent for the rest of their lives. As if that is not bad enough, it’s a government agency bringing this about, and they know they are doing it because they have disclosed the data that makes it clear (you can read the full report here)
There is both a moral and economic case for CMS to suspend, with immediate effect, the chasing & collection of arrears pending an urgent public inquiry. Each suicide is estimated to have an economic cost of £1.7m (NHS estimate), so the total cost comes to almost £1.7bn each year (almost double all the maintenance payments overseen by CMS). It would be far cheaper for government to pay the arrears (and much more on top) in order to prevent these suicides, the total arrears at the time of the deaths was less than £10m, less than £4K to very likely prevent each individual suicide!
There is an immediate and urgent requirement to support the group identified in the report as being at highest risk of targeting by CMS, and that is the group of parents who are currently in arrears, and any more who may fall into arrears going forward. The risk of death for these 50k approx. parents is 14 times elevated and risk of suicide is 173 times elevated. We MUST intervene to STOP the CMS from driving any more parental suicides!
We are demanding.
1. Immediate suspension of debt collection activity by CMS
2. Launch of a Public Inquiry into CMS debt collection practices
3. CMS to report ALL future deaths to the Coroners Office as a cross check, and for the Coroner to be required to increase their scope of investigation for their Inquiries into suspected suicides by parents include:
a) What involvement with CMS in the 2 years leading up to their death, how was that handled and what patterns can be established (i.e. ratio of suicide to case handler)?
what involvement with family court in prior 3 years
b) What solicitors were involved in any family court proceedings (both sides - so that patterns may emerge as to involvement of certain practices in more than one suicide)
c) What support had the victims GP provided and what disclosures were made to the GP regarding their experiences of family law and/or CMS
d) Was the victim accused of any form of abuse and was legitimate evidence of that provided
e) Did the family court issue any form of injunctive order against the victim preventing them from having contact with their children, and if so were all the correct procedures followed and the victim given the opportunity to contest claims made against them.
f) What police action was taken against them for any claims of domestic abuse or violence.
g) Who made claims against them, what records are there of historical behaviour and was any evidence to substantiate their claims provided?
h) Did a domestic abuse charity, organisations or Independent Domestic Violence Advisor provide a letter in support of a person making allegations against the suicide victim, and if so what due diligence did the person carry out prior to writing the letter?
i) An immediate disclosure of all historical parental deaths going forward in the population of parents who were in arrears to the Coroner for a cross check of those deaths with known or suspected suicides which have fallen under their remit for an Inquiry, with the results of this cross check to be made publicly available.
j) All those cases where it is shown that the death has been determined to be or suspected to be (Inquest still pending) a result of suicide, those cases to fall into the scope of the additional investigation set out above.
k) All coroners’ inquiries shown to have a link to the CMS which are now closed, must be reopened and a new inquiry completed into the causative effect of CMS practices on suicide victim.
l) A requirement for government to provide funding for research into the prevalence and effect of Parental Alienation and the use of family justice as a tool of domestic abuse by false allegations
m) A requirement for government to fund research into the prevalence over the last 30 years of excess deaths in the paying parent population of CSA & CMS
o) Immediate fast track of support for all those CMS cases most at risk of suicide as an urgent preventative measure (this will be easy to identify but will require full DWP/CMS transparency), 53,700 paying parents are currently at a 173 x elevated risk of suicide, it is likely that a high proportion of these parents are in a deeply distressed state of mental health.
4. A requirement for The Ministry of Justice to disclose a list of all parents involved in family law cases to the coroner together with dates of birth and representing solicitors. These names to be filtered against the coroners office data for all suicides/suspected suicides. This is a technically very easy exercise and will reveal the full extent of suicidality among family court litigants. The cross check to rank the number of times the opposing sides solicitors appear in a case where suicide is the result. For obvious reasons, the government must appoint independent oversight to this process.
5. Investigation by The Charity Commission into campaigning activities by Gingerbread, Women’s Aid and Refuge, into the effect of that campaigning, so far as pressure applied for over-zealous enforcement practices by CMS for collection of arrears, and the impact that may have had on increased suicidality. This investigation to include requirement for all those parties to disclose what research they carried out to support their campaigning theories, what assessment of CMS/DWP data was carried out by any of these institutions to justify making enforcement practices more stringent, together with details of what research was carried out into the potential risk/dangers that may arise from any increase to enforcement powers being exercised.
6. All GP's and mental health practicioners to be immediately instructed to prioritiese those who are being targeted by CMS for arrears, so that they can receive urgent therapeutic intervention to reduce the risk of suicide.
7. Public call for evidence from families affected by suicide of a loved one being chased by CMS for arrears
8. A public call for whistleblowers
9. Reach out to MSM for them to break this story
10. Reach out to documentary makers to document this story
11. Generic letter to all MP’s, all ministers, PM and all those involved in equalities and in suicide prevention.
12. Letters to all suicide prevention and mental health charities seeking their support for this project
13. Set up a CMS expert working group. This working group responsible for defining ongoing pressure on CMS and parliament, as well as capture and dissemination of real-life stories to aid this campaign.
14. Define a strategy for suicide prevention that encompasses NHS practitioners being aware of the risk to life posed to separated fathers in particular, to ensure any reaching out for support from GP are fast tracked into that support and sign posted to our campaign so that they have more hope that this will be stopped.