An early process evaluation of the public law outline in family courts

Jessiman, Patricia; Keogh, Peter and Brophy, Julia (2009). An early process evaluation of the public law outline in family courts. Ministry of Justice.



Local authorities with serious allegations of significant harm or likely significant harm to a child which cannot be resolved with a parent may apply to the court to place the child under local authority care or supervision, under Section 31 of the Children Act 1989. Care proceedings resulting from such applications can be very lengthy. The Public Law Outline (PLO) was introduced by the Judiciary and Ministry of Justice as a tool for the management of care proceeding cases (Ministry of Justice 2008).

The aims of this study were to describe and evaluate the process of implementation of the Public Law Outline (PLO) in two tiers of the family justice system (magistrates’ Family Proceedings Courts and county court Care Centres). The PLO was initially trialled in ten areas in England and Wales from June 2007, and rolled out nationally on the 1st April 2008, together with the issue of statutory guidance for local authorities issued by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF 2008), and the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG 2008).

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