About the IRM

The IRM started operation in April 2004, providing adoption applicants in England with the option of applying to an independent body to review the adoption agency's determination not to approve them as adopters or to withdraw their approval. It is operated by BAAF on behalf of the Department for Education.

Since April 1st 2009 this service has been expanded to include consideration of fostering cases. An independent review of the qualifying determination is now also an option where a fostering service provider proposes not to approve prospective foster carers or to withdraw or change the terms of an existing foster carer’s approval. It will also consider applications from people applying to receive information from adoption records (where the adoption agency has made a determination not to accept their application or to disclose or withhold information against the wishes of the person to whom the information relates).

The IRM review panels are not courts or tribunals

They review the qualifying determinations made by an adoption agency or a fostering service provider and make a new recommendation having considered all the relevant information afresh. Their recommendation must be taken into account by the adoption agency or fostering service provider when making their final decision.

Review of the Independent Review Mechanism (Adoption)

The DfE published their independent review of the IRM after the first three years of operation. This review (June 2008) concluded that the IRM was meeting it’s objectives in giving confidence to adopters in the adoption process. The report is available as a pdf from the DfE website.

IRM Staff


The IRM office is based in Leeds and is staffed by a small team. The Contract Manager is Donal Mullally and he is supported by Kathryn Richardson (Social Worker), Helen Isabella Ferguson (Administrator), Julie Jennison (Administrator) and Karen Lazenby (Administrator). All the administration for the IRM Panels is dealt with by the IRM office.

The IRM staff welcome enquiries from people considering applying to the IRM who wish to discuss their options or from agency staff wanting to know more about how we operate. Please contact us using the following details.

Contract Manager,
Independent Review Mechanism (IRM)
Unit 4,
Pavilion Business Park,
Royds Hall Road,
Wortley,
LEEDS
LS12 6AJ

Tel No: 0845 450 3956 (charged at local rate)
Fax: 0845 450 3957

Email: irm@baaf.org.uk