In the case of Applications for Permanence Orders under Section 80 of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 in respect of the children A and B [2017] SC EDIN 30 (Edinburgh Sheriff Court, 15 March 2017) 

Background: The petitioner is the City of Edinburgh Council as adoption agency for the purposes of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007. They seek a permanence order of the non-identical twins, A and B, who have been placed with foster parents (Z) since birth. Their parents (M and F) presently have parental rights and responsibilities for both children. There is currently no direct contact or direct contact in the foreseeable future between the children and M and F due to distress exhibited by the children on previous occasions.  

It was considered that direct contact may be sought in the interests of the children at a later date and regular indirect contact should continue in the best interests of the children. Indirect contact has existed three times a year for the exchange of gifts or showing photographs of the children. In respect of the permanence order sought, it is now accepted that the threshold test for the making of permanence orders is satisfied – that the children’s residence with the parents is likely to be seriously detrimental to A and B’s welfare – and that it is in the children’s best interests that such orders should be made.   

The parents agreed that direct contact should not be made for the foreseeable future. The parties agreed that photographs of M and F can be sent to the children once a year and the parents would not receive a photograph of the children. The respondents sought to continue the indirect contact, namely the viewing of the photograph of A and B once a year. The petitioners argued this could lead to the children being approached by the respondents and potentially causing distress. There were further concerns from the petitioners that the parents may find out where the children and foster carers reside. Consideration was to be made by the sheriff in respect of the risks in allowing the viewing of the photographs of the children to the respondents once a year.  

Held:   The sheriff granted the Permanence Order in respect of A and B to ensure their welfare is safeguarded and to include a provision providing for indirect contact.  With consideration of the potential risks due to the respondents ability to identify the children in public or on social media through the viewing of photographs the sheriff held that the risks were not materially increased. The petitioner’s social work department should monitor the viewing of the photographs. Furthermore, the respondents should not attempt to make copies of the images and it will be for the petitioner to determine how best to ensure that does not take place.   

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