Around 20 per cent of psychologists acting as expert witnesses for the family courts are not qualified, according to a Channel 4 News investigation broadcast tonight, writes producer Phil Carter.
The findings are based on research published on Wednesday for the Family Justice Council (FJC). It was led by Professor Jane Ireland, a forensic psychologist at the University of Central Lancashire.
Prof Ireland and her team were given unprecedented access to psychologists’ expert witness reports from three undisclosed courts across England by the FJC, an arm’s length body of the Ministry of Justice.
Prof Ireland told Channel 4 News: “You should never be in a position where you diagnose somebody, or make judgements on them, if you haven’t seen them. It goes completely against code of conduct and ethics and it is impossible. You can’t do a paper assessment on a human being, you have to meet that person, understand their interactions, build a rapport and then take your judgement on the basis of that.”
Yet, despite the concerns over assessing people without ever actually seeing them, it seems that courts are willing to accept such reports.
You can watch the entire programme by clicking the following link: http://www.channel4.com/news/how-competent-are-expert-witnesses
Now that Anne and Hollie have been forced back into the family courts with a case brought by Shropshire Council on the basis of one of these made up reports, this aspect of the secret courts at least has made it into the main stream media.