QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
London WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF H||Claimant|
|LONDON BOROUGH OF BARNET||Defendant|
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Mr J Moffett [Ms M Pratley attended for judgment] (instructed by LB Barnet) appeared on behalf of the Defendant
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"Every local authority shall provide accommodation for any child in need within their area who appears to them to require accommodation as a result of . . .
(c) the person who has been caring for him being prevented (whether or not permanently, and for whatever reason) from providing him with suitable accommodation or care."
Subsection (4) gives a discretionary power to the local authority to provide accommodation for a child who falls outside the scope of the duty in section 20(1) where they consider that to do so would safeguard and promote that child's welfare. However, by subsection (6) -- and this applies both to the duty under subsection (1) and to the exercise of the discretionary power under subsection (4) -- it is provided that:
"Before providing accommodation under this section, a local authority shall, so far as is reasonably practicable and consistent with a child's welfare --
(a) ascertain the child's wishes and feelings regarding the provision of accommodation; and
(b) give due consideration (having regard to his age and understanding) to such wishes of the child as they have been able to ascertain."
Subsection (7) precludes an authority providing accommodation if the person able and willing to provide or arrange accommodation for the child objects.
"It is agreed by the family and all professionals involved that coming into public care by means of section 20 of the Children Act 1989 would not be in the best interests of [the son]. I have explained to the family that a stable foster placement would be more difficult to find, given [his] age. A placement in a children's home would have potentially negative consequences for [him] as he would have more freedom. This could see him associating with peers who could have a negative influence on him, and lead and encourage [him] to commit more anti-social behaviour, leading to him getting into trouble with the law. Moreover this would also make returning to education much more difficult for him. The family continue to be able to provide a home for [him].
Therefore I believe the best solution would be for [him] to stay with his parents. They would have 'shared care' for [him], meaning that his mother would have him for a period, for example, during the week, and his father would take care of [him] during the weekends. Both parents feel that this could work although I understand that his mother is rightly concerned about having [him] live with her, in light of his aggressive and intimidating behaviour. This is fully acknowledged. Therefore services would have to be ongoing to both parents . . . "
"His family have made it clear that they believe that he needs a residential special needs school. They feel it would be in the best interests of [their son], although I feel that [he] would have to be strongly committed to this option for it to work. So far [he] has made it clear to me that he does not want to attend a residential school, but wouldn't mind attending a special needs school during the day."
"In the past there have been concerns about [the son's] relationship with his father although presently [no concerns have been highlighted]. The son has told me that he enjoys spending time with his father in Highbury and also at his mother's in Finchley, although he prefers staying with his mother as that is where most of his possessions are and is closer to his friends."