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Social workers should use Facebook when searching for missing parents says judge

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06 Mar 2017

A High Court judge says social workers should make use of Facebook when searching for missing parents


Mr Justice Holman says Facebook is a useful tool in a social worker’s armoury.

The judge, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court, has highlighted the value of Facebook after overseeing a case in which social workers had been unable to trace a child’s birth mother.

He had been asked to decide whether a four-year-old boy should be placed for adoption and was concerned to make sure that the youngster’s natural mother was aware of the proceedings.

A barrister representing the child’s father had said she had been traced a few days before a hearing.

Zimran Samuel said the child’s father’s new partner had found her by doing a “very simple search of a public Facebook website”.

“In the modern era, Facebook may well be a route to somebody such as a birth parent whose whereabouts are unknown and who requires to be served with notice of adoption proceedings,” said Mr Justice Holman in a ruling on the case.

“I do not for one moment suggest that Facebook should be the first method used, but it does seem to be a useful tool in the armoury which can certainly be resorted to long before a conclusion is reached that it is impossible to locate the whereabouts of a birth parent.”

The judge added: “Of course, not everyone is on Facebook but, in this particular case, a relatively socially disadvantaged young mother has been found very rapidly by that means.”

He said the case had been adjourned to give the little boy’s mother time to consider her position.

The youngster had been taken into council care more than a year ago and was living with a foster carer.

Mr Justice Holman said he had analysed the case at a family court hearing in Manchester and the little boy was in the care of Manchester City Council.

He said the youngster could not be identified.

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