High Court finds Council failed to provide vulnerable teenage girl with accommodation and support

Tuesday 22 March 2016

The High Court has ruled that the approach taken by a local authority regarding a teenage girl who was vulnerable to radicalisation and was also homeless was “fundamentally flawed”, “manifestly irrational” and “difficult to justify or defend.” The teenager was represented by Gráinne Mellon of Garden Court Chambers.

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The 18-year-old girl, identified only as A, had travelled to Turkey and close to the Syrian border when she was just 16 years old. Her return to the UK was facilitated by the Counter Terrorism Police and she had, on a number of subsequent occasions, left the UK alone despite the objection of her parents. On returning to the UK, A presented to the local authority as homeless. She refused to live with her parents because she considered that her relationship with them had broken down, partly because her parents “were not strict enough Muslims” and because her father had hit her during an argument.

The High Court characterised the decision of Enfield Council - that because A’s parents had not prohibited her from living with them, she was not homeless - as “simplistic’” noting that in cases where parents are unable to protect their children, the fact that they continue to offer a home is “understandable but frequently irrelevant.”

Mr. Justice Hayden ruled that the decision of the local authority that the claimant was not a Child in Need was unlawful, noting that he would find it “very hard to envisage any circumstances” where issues of radicalisation would not “at the very least fall within the ambit of s. 17.”

The Court ruled that A should have been provided with accommodation and support by Enfield and should therefore be treated as if she was a  ‘former relevant child’, meaning that she is now able to access a range of assistance until, at the very least, she turns 21.

The judge explained that A’s “physical, emotional and sexual security” was at risk and that her position had become “increasingly unsafe” after she was denied support or services by Enfield.

The case was reported in the press including in The Telegraph.

Gráinne Mellon, a member of Garden Court’s Public Law and Community Care Teams, was instructed by Samia Khaleeli from GT Stewart Solicitors.

 

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