Allegation of Harassment to Police from my 12yr old daughter
Hi all, I received a call from the local constabulary today requesting I attend a voluntary interview in relation to an allegation of harassment towards my daughter, the allegation was made by my ex-wife. I am NRP, my only defence is that I have PR and there are no court orders which prohibit me contacting her. I have been attempting to communicate with my daughter via text message and the responses have not been encouraging. She is a typical moody 12y/o so I was under the impression this was just a phase.
Back story - I left the ex-wife almost 4 years ago and the divorce has been worse than acrimonious. CAFCASS were less than helpful and the family court system failed me. I have a CAO which prescribes contact "in line with the wishes and feelings of the children" (they were 7 and 9 at the time). I have been on the receiving end of epic amounts of parental alienation and my relationships with my children is almost non-existent, thanks to their mother.
I have agreed to a voluntary interview next week and I need to arrange my defence beforehand. Can anybody offer any advice (I cannot afford a solicitor) to counter these pathetic allegations?
Good evening. All you need to do is phone up solicitors in your area and arrange a duty solicitor to attend the police station . Its free of charge. A voluntary interview is as good as being arrested and questioned although if they deem you no threat its a cheaper way for them inviting you to come in off your own free will
So I've been through the criminal justice system, long story but I'm at a stage where I communicate with the kids via text and Skype although I am starting to see them more.
I am always conscious around my comms to the kids to ensure that I cannot be accused of harassment as my ex wouldn't hesitate to go running to the police. Eg I messaged my eldest child 3 days ago to ask how they were now that they're back at school, I didn't get a response and so I sent another message yesterday and got an 'it was ok' and no more. At this point I could send a flurry of messages but I've been advised to avoid doing this specifically for the very reason you describe, in that I can't demonstrate comms is wanted or reasonable... (my situation is long winded and complex)..
In your case, I would imagine that you'd need to build a picture of ongoing comms, being a concerned, loving, caring parent, some of the challenges in the family courts and that your comms is not out of the ordinary and in line with how things usually are.. (with advice from your solicitor you may need to concede on something to avoid any further action)..
Ensure you take a duty solicitor with you, you may find they offer free 30 mins in advance to prepare you for it..
It may be nothing and just another way for your ex to manipulate the situation and frustrate contact further in future.. The police may direct you back to the family courts..
Lastly, have you reviewed your communications? Or got someone else to and looked at it impartially to see if it could be seen to be harassment? (unwanted behaviour causing distress, alarm etc, you can look up a better definition online).. Unfortunately having PR or court orders/no court orders are no defence which was clearly explained to me by my solicitor..
All the best.
Everyone is entitled to a duty solicitor for FREE to represent you when you are interviewed voluntarily or not at police station.
If you say the right things its highly unlikely there will be any further action
As has been said, you will be entitled to a duty solicitor for potential criminal matters.
It might be worth applying to court to vary your CAO as they could look at ways to improve the situation. You wouldn't necessarily have the same Cafcass or court personnel dealing with your case. It's probably the last thing you want to do right now, but given the ages of the children, time is of the essence if you wanted professional help with progressing your relationship with them.
To clarify, yes everyone is entitled to a free duty solicitor for the interview. My suggestion was that some may give you additional free time in advance to prepare for the interview itself especially if you source your own rather than just go with the police appointed at the time..
Thanks for all the advice. I've arranged for free legal representation.
I'm interested to know whether any other alienated parents have been in a similar situation?
Yes unfortunately a lot of parents who have an ex they dont get on with are capable of going to many extremes to obstruct and frustrate a relationship with your children.
By arranging mediation and looking at family court proceedings ,if this fails will look more favorable with the police when they speak to you than if you leave it how it is now. You are showing then that you need to do things the legal way and that whatever happened before wasnt harrassement , but a little bit of frustration and there been no contact order in place. And after your interview dont bother contacting any of them via phone or in person as they may not leave it and attempt to get you into bother again. By all means if your daughter contacts you 1st then that would be fine , but only talk about contact arrangements only. With your legal representation also , i would arrange to meet him/her outside police station then go in together , but obviously arranged at a certain time with police. This would avoid any delays and will enable you to be interviewed and able to leave quicker afterwards
I just wanted to share some useful tips on communicating with young people, that you maybe able to adapt to the times when you text your daughter. It must be tough for you when you feel like she isn't responding the way you would like, but don't give up, even if you don't receive the response you wish too, keep encouraging her, tell her you care about her and that you are always ready to listen or chat to if she needs it. Would you be able to do a video call of some sort ? Any how, here are a few suggestions:
1. Always be ready to listen and try not to ask too many direct questions, instead letting the texting/conversation flow when it's ready.
2. Validate their feelings. For example - "It sounds like you've had a busy day at school, you must be tired."
3. Give praise and encouragement - harder to do over a text, but still important. It will help your daughter gain self-confidence.
4. Keep calm - make sure before sending any communication with your daughter that you are calm yourself and this will lead to a positive interaction, even if it is via text or call.
5. Perhaps ask her next time you are in contact to tell you about any significant dates she has coming up - school tests, out of school achievements, etc, so that you can send her an encouragement via text to let her know you are thinking of her.
6. Be respectful of former family members if they are brought up in conversation. Remember you are both still the children's parents and you both care about them, as will other family members and friends of both families.
7. Agree a time and date when you will both speak again, and if it helps share some of your week and how it's gone with your daughter so she knows what's happening in the world of dad.
I hope some of this is useful, your daughter may still be sad that her parents are no longer together, so go gently and don't give up.
Wishing you all the best,