Cafcass deactivates prioritisation protocol in Greater Manchester

Cafcass, in collaboration with local partners, has successfully resolved key challenges in the family justice system in Greater Manchester, leading to the deactivation of its prioritisation protocol from 1st December.

This change reinstates the standard process for allocating children’s cases, moving away from the Allocation Hub system. Originally implemented in 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic, the prioritisation protocol was a strategic response to alleviate the strain caused by increased service demands, prolonged case proceedings, and capacity challenges.

Its primary goals were to ensure swift assignment of public law cases and high-risk private law cases, manage family court advisers’ workloads effectively, support managerial oversight, and sustain service quality for children, families, and courts.

The decision to revert to normal operations in Greater Manchester was made possible through collaborative efforts at the local level to mitigate the system’s burdens.

However, the prioritisation protocol remains active in two other service areas, affecting five court regions. In Greater London, the protocol was initiated in September 2023 for private family law cases (covering three courts), and in the Essex, Suffolk, and Norfolk area (encompassing two courts), where it has been in place since December 2021. Strategies are being developed in partnership to determine the steps needed for deactivating the protocol in these regions.

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