QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
2 Park St, Cardiff CF10 1ET
B e f o r e :
| The QUEEN on the application of
(by his litigation friend James Whitehouse)
|- and -
|LONDON BOROUGH OF HILLINGDON
|- and -
|THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT
Andrew Sharland (instructed by Hillingdon Legal Services) for the Defendant
Jonathan Cowen (instructed by Birmingham City Council Legal and Democratic Services) for Birmingham City Council
The Interested Party did not appear and was not represented
Hearing date: 13 February 2012
Crown Copyright ©
Mr Justice Bean :
"(1) 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-
(a) there being no person who has parental responsibility for him;
(b) his being lost or having been abandoned; or
(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.
(2) Where a local authority provide accommodation under subsection (1) for a child who is ordinarily resident in the area of another local authority, that other local authority may take over the provision of accommodation for the child within-
(a) three months of being notified in writing that the child is being provided with accommodation; or
(b) such other longer period as may be prescribed.
(6) Before providing accommodation under this section, a local authority shall, so far as is reasonably practicable and consistent with the 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 [and feelings] of the child as they have been able to ascertain."
"It may be difficult to determine what that answer is. The decision makers may have to do their best on the basis of less than perfect or conclusive evidence. But that is true of many questions of fact which regularly come before the court. That does not prevent them from being questions for the courts rather than for other kinds of decision makers."
"(3) Is he within the local authority's area? This again is not contentious. But it may be worth remembering that it was an important innovation in the forerunner provision in the Children Act 1948. Local authorities have to look after the children in their area irrespective of where they are habitually resident. They may then pass a child on to the area where he is ordinarily resident under section 20(2) or recoup the cost of providing for him under section 29(7). But there should be no more passing the child from pillar to post while the authorities argue about where he comes from."