Thursday 3 December 2020

The Burn family - Nia Griffith MP petitions parliament

Llanelli MP Nia Griffith (Lab) has petitioned parliament to call for an independent review into the way Dyfed Powys Police handled the case of the Burn family back in 2010. The family have been seeking justice ever since. For background, the case has been covered on this blog in the past, most recently in 2017 here and here. Former County Councillor Sian Caiach has also written extensively about the case. The Daily Express also published an article in 2017, here.

In 2010 Carina Burn, who was then nineteen, was taken from her parents, Robin and Julia after carers, contracted by the council, made allegations that Carina had conveyed to them that she was being abused by her parents. Carina is profoundly autistic, cannot speak and has very limited communication skills. Incidentally, shortly before the allegations were made, Julia had queried the disappearance of Carina's pocket money when her daughter was out with the carers.

The police found no evidence of abuse and eventually admitted that the allegations were fabricated. No action was taken against the carers. The allegations were further discredited by an expert witness who examined Carina's capacity, or lack of, to communicate.

However, despite no action being taken, Carina was not returned to her parents for six months. This was a traumatic experience for the family and left Carina profoundly distressed, tearful and frightened to leave her parents for a very long time.

Carina, aided by her legal team, won a civil claim against the various authorities for the contravention of her human rights, and her solicitor gave this damning comment at the time;

“This was a horrific case and Carina and her family were let down by every authority that should have been helping them, with devastating consequences… the family did their best to raise their concerns through appropriate channels but it was only through legal proceedings that the police, local authority and a psychiatrist engaged by the local authority all finally admitted their catastrophic failures.”

This has been a long uphill struggle for Carina's parents and, unsurprisingly, they feel that individuals within both the police and the council have attempted to brush the whole business under the carpet. The following petition put forward by MP Nia Griffith is now on the record and is the latest stage in their struggle for justice for Carina.

Hansard: December 2nd 2020

Nia Griffith (Llanelli) (Lab) 
Independent Review of Dyfed-Powys Police

My constituents and their daughter Carina were put through months and years of anguish on the basis of evidence collected against National Policing Improvement Agency guidance for which the police have never apologised, so I rise to present to the House the petition of Julia and Robin Burn.

The petition states:

The petition of Julia and Robin Burn,

Declares that, in 2010, in conducting their investigations into allegations made against the petitioners, Dyfed-Powys Police did not proceed in accordance with the appropriate National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) guidance; further declares that these allegations were later found to be groundless and without merit; further that this resulted in the petitioners’ mute autistic daughter being taken into local authority care for six months; and further that, after no further action was taken, no attempt was made to return her.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to instigate an independent review of Dyfed-Powys Police’s handling of this case.

And the petitioners remain, etc.

They now wait for a response.

Carina at home with her parents, November 2017

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