QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF B||(CLAIMANT)|
|THE LONDON BOROUGH OF SOUTHWARK||(DEFENDANT)|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MISS K BRETHERTON (instructed by LONDON BOROUGH OF SOUTHWARK) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
Crown Copyright ©
Friday, 4th July 2003
"(a) in the case of an order for a term of 8 months or more but less than 18 months, one month before the half-way point of the term of the order."
"... subject to securing appropriate accommodation prior to discharge date."
"I would like to remind you that this is subject to securing appropriate accommodation prior to discharge date, in order to process the documentation, I would need an address and signed authorisation forms by June 10th. I emphasise the appropriate nature of accommodation as not only must it meet his basic requirements, but it must also fulfil any regulations placed on [it] by the YOT, and be suitable for tagging."
"I am due to be released on the Home Detention Scheme 'Tagging' on 19th June 2003. Unfortunately I am homeless and will have nowhere to go when I leave prison. Unless I have suitable accommodation I cannot be released on 19.06.03 and will have to remain in Prison for the full term."
"[Mr B] is due for release on 19th June 2003 and without any suitable address, his application for housing must be deemed urgent. If this Youth Offending Team is to succeed in its objective of reducing the likelihood of further offending, I am of the opinion that it will need the cooperation of the Housing Department to help provide some stability in this young man's life upon his release from detention."
"Following a telephone call I received on 20th May 2003, from Miss Remi, of the Immigration's Criminal Case Work Team, I am writing to update you on [Mr B's] situation. Miss Remi informed me that [Mr B] was granted British Nationality in July 2002. This was due to his father being naturalised in 1995, therefore 'there is no problem with his status in this country.'"
"... process [Mr B's] application for homeless assistance to avoid litigation at this stage."
"This is not of course to be construed as any commitment to house [Mr B] upon his release from custody."
"[Mr B] is now 'Threatened with Homelessness' in as much as it would not be reasonable for him to continue to occupy his prison cell after 19.06.03 at which time he is free to leave subject to his having obtained suitable accommodation.
In the circumstances we would ask you please to allocate a specific property for [Mr B] for his occupation as on 19.06.03. The prison requires this address and signed authorisation forms by 10.06.03, failing which [Mr B] will have to remain in prison. The timetable is therefore quite tight in that you would need to propose a property before 10.06.03 in order for the YOT team to check its suitability. I believe the key requirement is the possibility of installing a dedicated telephone line."
"... further to our correspondence since that date in which we have made it abundantly clear that [Mr B] becomes homeless on 19.06.03 we note that you have failed to offer our client any accommodation. He therefore remains in prison today.
We therefore write this letter before claim. Our client's position is that he needs to be granted suitable (temporary) accommodation today. If you provide our client, through his litigation friend with that accommodation today, we believe that it will still be possible for the property to be assessed as to suitability for the Youth Offending Team and that [Mr B] will be allowed to leave prison for his Home Detention."
"I am writing to tell you that I have made a decision on your application for homeless assistance.
I am not satisfied that you are homeless. This is because you are currently detained in a Young Offender Institution. I have considered whether it is reasonable for you to remain there, and I have decided that as your detention is lawful (since there is no evidence or contention to the contrary), it is reasonable for you to continue to occupy your current accommodation.
Since you are not homeless, the Council has no duty to secure accommodation for you at this time. As we are aware that you are to be released on 19th July 2003 (the midway point of your sentence) we will continue to make enquiries with regard to your circumstances, anticipating that you will approach us on release."
"175(1) A person is homeless if he has no accommodation available for his occupation, in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, which he -
(a) is entitled to occupy by virtue of an interest in it or by virtue of an order of a court,
(b) has an express or implied licence to occupy, or
(c) occupies as a residence by virtue of any enactment or rule of law giving him the right to remain in occupation or restricting the right of another person to recover possession.
(3) A person shall not be treated as having accommodation unless it is accommodation which it would be reasonable for him to continue to occupy."
"Mr Luba is correct to submit that the local authority did not consider whether Mr Stewart's term in prison constituted settled accommodation, so as to break the chain of causation between (1) eviction from his flat as a result of his deliberate act and (2) his release from custody and looking for accommodation anew. The question is whether, if they had considered the matter, there would have been any prospect of a different conclusion. In my view there would not. Prison is, to my mind, the opposite of settled accommodation. The prisoner hopes that it will be as temporary as possible. Any such hope on the part of Mr Stewart was triumphantly justified in this case since, although he was sentenced as a long-term prisoner, he appears to have been released only two days after he would have been released if he had been a short-term prisoner. The learned judge, Judge Cox, gave this argument short shrift. He said:
'The position of Mr Stewart upon his incarceration was that first of all I suspect, although I do not know, that, in common with many other prisoners, he would have taken every legitimate means that he considered available to him to curtail the period of his incarceration. I know not whether he appealed or appealed against sentence, but it is to be expected that he might have done. He would have taken steps likewise to obtain release as quickly as he possibly could. He was in fact released after two and a half years of a five year sentence, albeit on licence. During the period that he was incarcerated he was perforce moved from one prison to another. He did not have in any sense a settled home in any one prison, and I have to say that my mind recoils from the idea that a cell in any one prison, for example Brixton, could be regarded as one's home and, has been pointed out to me by Mr Redpath-Stevens in the skeleton which has [been] placed before me, the concept of accommodation as it is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary involved at least the consideration of having one's habitual residence, house or home. It seems to me that incarceration in one of Her Majesty's prisons is the antithesis of having a home. It is just that. It is incarceration. It is detention against one's will and it seems to me that in those circumstances it cannot be said that that amounts to any sort of accommodation within the expressions used in the Act.'
I need only say that I entirely agree."
"In this situation, Parliament plainly, and wisely, placed no qualifying adjective before the word 'accommodation' in section 1 or section 4 of the Act, and none is to be implied. The word 'appropriate' or 'reasonable' is not to be imported. Nor is accommodation not accommodation because it might in certain circumstances be unfit for habitation for the purposes of Part II of the Housing Act 1957 or might involve overcrowding within the meaning of Part IV. Those particular statutory criteria are not to be imported into the Homeless Persons Act for any purpose. What is properly to be regarded as accommodation is a question of fact to be decided by the local authority. There are no rules. Clearly some places in which a person might choose or be constrained to live could not properly be regarded as accommodation at all; it would be a misuse of language to describe Diogenes as having occupied accommodation within the meaning of the Act. What the local authority have to consider, in reaching a decision whether a person is homeless for the purposes of the Act, is whether he has what can properly be described as accommodation within the ordinary meaning of that word in the English language."
"(1) The test as to whether the applicant is intentionally homeless within the meaning section 60 of the Housing Act 1985 is a subjective one; the authority should approach the matter by examining how the situation which their inquiries showed to exist affected this particular applicant and her daughter; the local inquiry should have focused on the particular area of Belfast in which the applicant lived, which the evidence suggested was specifically prone to the worst excesses of sectarian violence."
"Following your request I asked my client to check the IND database, with results as follows..."
"... search revealed someone of a name you confirm is not known to be connected in any way. Date of birth did not match that given by you."
"... search revealed no similar name and closest match was for different date of birth/HO ref.
3. 15.8.85/Nigerian - search revealed someone of totally different name which you confirmed was unrelated to your matters."