South Yorkshire and Humber area to stop using the prioritisation protocol

Cafcass has decided that South Yorkshire and Humber service area will exit from operating under the practice prioritisation protocol. This area will now revert to our business as usual processes and allocate cases accordingly.

The decision to allocate only the highest priority work in this area due to a combination of a high number of open active cases, finite staffing capacity and staff absence relating to Covid-19 was made in November.

The decision to exit from operating under the practice prioritisation protocol in this area was made for a combination of reasons.

Since November, we have been able to bring in additional staff resource which has provided increased capacity in the area. Capacity was also released as cases categorised as priority three and four in the practice prioritisation protocol were not allocated. Cases in priority groups three and four already had a safeguarding agency involved or were cases which were considered to have no safeguarding risks. The use of the protocol allowed staff in this area to work more flexibly until new staff were brought on stream.

Now the situation has stabilised, we are in a position where we’re able to allocate public law cases and reallocate cases in the priority three and four groups.

However, we remain extremely conscious that underlying pressures remain across all Cafcass service areas. Whilst we have put additional staffing and other measures in place, caseloads remain high. We are continuing to monitor this and are exploring possible solutions with our family justice system partners. It’s essential that we continue to work together to tackle the backlogs in the system so that we can deliver a good quality and timely service for children and families. We remain of the view that the longer-term solution is reform and continue to actively support the development and implementation of more fundamental change, especially in private law.

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