Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don't

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Episode 1 of 3

Duration: 1 hour

Follows Bristol's child protection teams over the course of a year to see frontline work first-hand and explore how the crises of the last decade have had an impact on their ability to safeguard children.

Newly-qualified Susanne is working with a 'low risk' family. But even the most straightforward situations often develop into something more ominous.

Her first case is to help a family with their three-year-old son Toby, who has learning difficulties. His parents need support and advice about how to improve their parenting, as well as the conditions of their small flat. However, father Mike's hostility towards Susanne means she can't help the family in the way she would like.

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  • Information and Support

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  • The legal protocol

    Protecting Our Children was only possible because of a legal protocol drawn up by Bristol City Council and the BBC, and ratified by the Family courts in the city. It's purpose was to ensure that the welfare of children was paramount and obliged the programme makers to go further than the requirements of the legislation in the filming and broadcasting of cases which were subject to care proceedings.

    Filming could only proceed when the court had been informed (and given the opportunity to order a halt), and broadcasting could only take place with the court's formal approval. In both cases, the court required the support of all parties to the proceedings - the guardian to the child, the local authority, the parents (or anyone else with parental responsibility), and all the lawyers representing these parties.

    It often resulted in long negotiations, numerous visits to the courts, and some nail-biting waits for the necessary permissions to come through. But the protocol was there to protect children and that essential safeguard helped enormously in winning the necessary access to tell these stories.        

    (Julian Mercer, BBC Executive Producer)

  • The making of Protecting Our Children

    The making of Protecting Our Children

    "It took months of hard work to try and persuade people to take part to show the real nitty gritty of the actual cases with families."

    Read series producer Sacha Mirzoeff's post on the BBC TV blog


Lesley Sharp
Sacha Mirzoeff
Series Producer
Sacha Mirzoeff
Assistant Producer
Sam Gibson


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