Children looked after by local authorities: legal framework

This report describes key aspects of the law as it applies throughout a child's journey through public care and supervision.

Footnotes for Roles and responsibilities of other agencies

1 C(S)A 1995, s21

2 C(S)A 1995, s21(1)

3 C(S)A 1995, s21(2)(d)

4 NHS Performance Assessment Framework returns (2003) - Dr de Caestecker, personal communication

5 R v. Northavon District Council, Ex parte Smith [1994] 2 A.C. 402 - a housing authority provided temporary accommodation for a homeless family with five children. The housing authority assessed the family as intentionally homeless and therefore ineligible for permanent housing. Under s27 CA 1989, the Social Services Department requested that the housing authority rehouse the family as the children were in need. The housing authority declined, advising that assistance would be limited to short-term accommodation and advice about obtaining private rented accommodation. Following judicial review the House of Lords held that the housing authority's response was reasonable in the light of its statutory duties under housing legislation and that s27 imposed a duty of co-operation with the social services department with which the housing authority's proposed more limited course of action was consistent; Re T (Judicial Review: Local Authority Decisions Concerning Child in Need), [2004] 1 F.L.R. 601 - a local authority requested an assessment by a voluntary agency of the risk posed by a young person with sexually aggressive behaviour. The assessment concluded that the young person might, without help, become a paedophile and recommended a residential placement. The local authority approached health and education services for a contribution towards funding of the placement. The education authority delayed a decision until there had been an assessment of educational need which did not proceed. The local authority then decided to make provision for the young person locally without a residential placement. The young person sought judicial review of the local authority's decision. The Court of Appeal quashed the decision as based on a lack of co-operation between the agencies concerned and reliant on the availability of services rather than T's needs.

6 R(On the Application of S) v London Borough of Wandsworth, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, London Borough of Lambeth 2001 WL 1346981

7 R. v Tower Hamlets LBC Ex p. Byas (1993) 25 H.L.R. 105; A had five children and held a secure local authority tenancy. In 1990 an order for possession was obtained against her and she was later found to be intentionally homeless. The local authority's social services department made a request under the Children Act 1989, s. 27 to the housing department to accommodate A and her family. The housing department refused to assist. A appealed against refusal of leave to apply for judicial review, unsuccessfully. The Court held that s. 27 of the Children Act 1989 did not apply where one department of a local authority sought help from another department within the same authority.

8 R(On the Application of Selcuk V) v. London Borough of Southwark 2001 WL 1040318

9 Children Act 1989, section 27

10 The Scottish Executive (2002) Growing Support; The Scottish Executive (2001) For Scotland's Children: Better integrated services for children; The Scottish Executive (2000) The Same As You? A review of services for people with learning disabilities

11 Children (Scotland) Act 1995 Regulations and Guidance Support and Protection for Children and their Families, see pviii and Chapter 2, paragraph 37, pp 13-14

12 S v Stirling Council 2000 SLT 979: a 17 year old, subject to a supervision requirement and resident in a children's home, wished to reside in another local authority area in accordance with her care plan. Her supervising local authority asked the receiving local authority to provide the young person with accommodation under s25 of the C(S)A 1995. The local authority placed the young person in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation. The young person sought judicial review of the decision not to provide her with residential accommodation. The petition for judicial review was dismissed on the basis that the receiving local authority had to consider whether compliance with the request was compatible with their statutory or other duties and obligations and there was no freestanding obligation to accede to the request without reference to the impact on those duties and obligations.

13 Norrie (2004)

14 C(S)A 1995, section 21(1)

15 Children (Scotland) Act 1995 Regulations and Guidance Volume 1 Support and Protection for Children and their Families Chapter 2, paragraph 36, p13 and Volume 2 Children Looked After by Local Authorities, Chapter 2, paragraph 25, p 45

16 Community Care and Health (Scotland) Act 2002, sections 13, 14 and 15

17 The Community Care (Joint Working etc.) (Scotland) Regulations 2002

18 ibid, section 17

19 The Arrangements to Look After Children (Scotland) Regulations 1996, Regulation 7

20 Children (Scotland) Act 1995 Regulations and Guidance Volume 2 Children Looked After by Local Authorities, Chapter 1, paragraph 74, p16

21 NHS Performance Assessment Framework returns (2003) - Dr Linda de Caestecker, personal communication

22 The Arrangements to Look After Children (Scotland) Regulations 1996, regulation 14(1)(c)

23 ibid, regulation 14(1)(a) and (b)

24 ibid, regulation 15(1)(b) and 15(2)

25 ibid, regulation 15(1)(a)

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