Can I Just Ask, Are You Recording This Phone Call?

The following is a parent’s experience of battling a flawed system that fails to effectively challenge cases of parental alienation. Where names may appear I have changed them to protect the identity of the anonymous contributor of the following post.

I am a nurse. I work for the UK National Health Service (NHS). I am just one of millions of people that passionately work for a service who’s aim it is to make people’s lives better. Ultimately to take care of people when they need it.

I am very passionate as a healthcare professional, how we, as professionals communicate with the family and carers of our patients. Not a day goes by when my colleagues or I do not answer the phone and on the other end of the phone is a family and/or loved one of one of our patients. These family members are in most cases worried about their loved ones. They wish to know how we as healthcare professionals are going to do our best to help their loved ones, our patients, get better.

When the loved ones of patients contact our hospital ward their queries and questions are valid. A fundamental part of our role as healthcare professionals is not only to care for our patients but to provide reassurance, compassion, commitment and also to actively listen to the family, loved one.

However imagine if you will the following scenario: One day a worried family member of one of our patients telephones the ward. I answer the phone, I provide no warmth or compassion in my communication and early into the conversation I then ask directly in a very matter-of-fact way “can I just ask, are you recording this phone call?”

They reply that they are not recording this telephone conversation. My response is to say, very abruptly, “I don’t believe you. You will do what you have done in the past. You will take what I say and use it against me.”

So what the heck has the above scenario got to do with parental alienation? Please allow me to explain.

I am an alienated father of three children. I have been denied contact with all my children by their mother for what is now just over two years. Social Services have come and gone. Cafcass have reluctantly stated that this is clearly a case of parental alienation.

However the mother of my children has continued to breach numerous court orders that would either promote or result in contact between my children and I. However there are no legal consequences for such breaches of numerous court orders. Cafcass and a Family Court Judge have both stated that the mother of my children is emotionally abusing my children and that these abusing behaviours of hers must stop. However the mother of my children ignores all advice, recommendations and court orders. The system is ill-equipped to effectively manage cases of parental alienation and the emotional abuse being inflicted on my children continues.

So in returning to the subject of how appropriate, effective and compassionate conversation is towards family and loved ones of any given service user I would like to explain the outcome of my last telephone conversation with Cafcass.

In essence, the theme was the same as the above scenario; I directly telephoned the Deputy Service Manager of my local Cafcass office. This Deputy Service Manager is fully aware that I have been denied contact with my children by their mother for over two years. He answered the phone and engaged in conversation with me, with absolutely no warmth or compassion. And as in the scenario above, early into the conversation he asked me in a very cold and clinical manner “can I just ask, are you recording this phone call?”

Allow me to give you some context, regarding this question of his. In the Spring of 2017 I had a telephone conversation with this same Deputy Service Manager. However on this previous occasion I was indeed recording the phone call. I was admittedly asking him numerous questions regarding the fact that Cafcass have and continue to fail to safeguard my children against emotional abuse. He was clearly becoming frustrated with his inability or unwillingness to answer my questions in an open and transparent manner.

“This is a flawed system Mr Smith.”

I have since come to learn that the organisational culture of Cafcass simply does not allow it’s staff to answer such questions in an open, honest and transparent manner.

In his frustration he explicitly stated “this is a flawed system Mr Smith.” This Deputy Service Manager then went on to somehow justifiably allude to the fact that due to this flawed system, not much else could be done to safeguard my children.

Approximately a month later, back in 2017 I was also engaged in a telephone conversation with the actual Service Manager of my local Cafcass region. This was due to me having raised my ongoing concerns and was continuing to seek answers as to why Cafcass were continuing to fail to safeguard my children against the ongoing emotional abuse. This phone call was also being recorded.

“Mr Smith, it is difficult to know what to do when the damage has already been done.”

As was the case with his aforementioned colleague, the Service Manager appeared to also become frustrated with my reasonable requests for answers that he was either unwilling or unable to answer in an honest manner. In his frustration he stated the following “Mr Smith, it is difficult to know what to do when the damage has already been done.” What a completely astounding and uncaring statement to make to a parent that is being alienated against his children by the other parent.

Regarding the first phone call with the Deputy Service Manager, I was subsequently informed by one of his junior members of staff that he was now denying having made such a statement. However following some email exchanges the Deputy Service Manager has since changed his stance; he is now stating that he may of made such a statement, but he does not recall doing so.

Strange thinks me! First denying it, then stating he could not recall having made such a statement, but he may have done! As you can see the lack of professional integrity and avoidance of responsibility is incredibly clear for all to see.

Regarding the telephone conversation with the Service Manager, I have since emailed him asking him if he still stands by his statement “Mr Smith, it is difficult to know what to do when the damage has already been done.” 

Unfortunately I have not yet received a reply. I have been battling this flawed system long enough to not expect a reply.

So I would like return to the question asked by the Deputy Service Manager “can I just ask, are you recording this phone call?” As already stated above, he was concerned thatwill take what he says and use it against him. 

But ultimately I was only asking him for the truth regarding my case. However he clearly appeared to have been fearful that I would be using the truth against him!

So what does that say about Cafcass? An organisation who’s job it is to protect the welfare of children through the family court process.



  1. Thanks for exposing CAFCASS as unfit for purpose.The only defense possible of CAFCASS is that other countries’ counterpart organizations all have similar flaws. The root cause is a shortfall of expertise in court-related psychological assessment that enables all so-called “Parental Alienation” (more properly “malicious obstruction of co-parenting”) to present as though it were the victim of domestic violence.
    M.O.C me not! Unfortunately, to the uninitiated (and that includes most of CAFCASS), the very term “parental alienation” implies that regrettably there is a valid reason for having to alienate the other parent. In rational thinking, no one (without relevant training) can imagine that one parent would resort to alienation of the other parent without having a very good reason for doing so, it seems that there just must be a reason! Moreover, the grossly inflated narrative of hidden, one-sided domestic violence, or sexual abuse, likely fueled by excessive alcohol or drugs, is the elephant in the room most implicated. So, one repercussion of mentioning even to your friends that your ex is obstructing your access to your kids is that your friends wonder why on earth that could be? Then they figure that your ex must know a whole lot more about what really went on behind closed doors than they do! Then they think it is not their business to get involved, especially they do not want to take sides with someone who is just maybe violent (not realizing that not getting involved, when the alienation is 100%, is tantamount to endorsing the alienation). Then they imagine the obstruction will soon run its course. When it’s still running its course 5 years later, they lean toward believing that you must have done something terrible, especially once it’s known that the kids do not want to see you and have no contact. “Parental alienation” isn’t immediately (or even 5 years later) understood by many people (e.g. CAFCASS) as the “Malicious Obstruction of Co-parent” (M.O.C.) that it really is. Moreover, the psychological and emotional damage to the children is completely obscured from undertrained staff who misread the hyper-bonding of the child with the alienator as though it were a positive thing that must be sustained. In truth it is distorted parenting thwarting progress of the child through developmental stages.

    • Thank you for your show of support and more telling the statement that you make “in truth it is distorted parenting thwarting progress of the child through developmental stages.” We as alienated parents know this, we live and we live it through the eyes of our alienated kids, but too many institutions and services are ‘pleading ignorance’ instead of be held accountable. That says everything about the professional integrity of such organisations!