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England and Wales High Court (Family Division) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales High Court (Family Division) Decisions >> CC (A Child), Re  EWHC 2179 (Fam) (29 August 2023)
Cite as:  EWHC 2179 (Fam)
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Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
SITTING AS A DEPUTY HIGH COURT JUDGE
| A London Borough
|- and -
CC (By her Guardian Lorraine Walker)
Ms Olivia Bliss (instructed by Thomas Dutton Solicitors) for the First Respondent
No appearance by the Second Respondent who has not been served
Ms Catriona Allen (instructed Goodman Ray) for the Third Respondent
Hearing dates: 24 August 2023
Crown Copyright ©
Mr David Lock KC :
What restrictions are the Local Authority seeking?
i) CC should be supervised by staff from the Placement at all times, with staff following her and keeping her in their line of sight should CC decide to leave the Placement without permission, or without staff. In the event CC were to leave without supervision or permission, efforts would be made to encourage her to return to the Placement and to support her on a one-to-one basis. In the event this is unsuccessful, police and the local authority would be notified;
ii) When leaving the Placement for planned activities, CC will always be accompanied by a member of staff;
iii) The doors to the Placement are to remain locked to CC at all times. CCTV is used in connection with the accommodation and contributes towards the ongoing supervision of those who are living at the Placement;
iv) CC is not to have access to the internet on any devices; and
v) Trained staff at the Placement are entitled, as a last resort, to use reasonable force to prevent CC self-harming or harming others.
i) The Local Authority, as CC's corporate parent, has set up a regime where CC is allowed to leave the Placement to spend weekends in London, with CC being permitted to spend between one and two weekends a month in London. Although her foster care Placement broke down (as explained below), she has returned to London for regular weekends to live with her former foster parents and has spent at least one weekend with her aunt. During these periods in London, the Local Authority has not made any arrangements for CC to be supervised by any member of the Placement staff or other care staff engaged by the Local Authority. Her Guardian tells me that, subject to any restrictions imposed by whoever she is staying with, she is generally free to socialise with her family and friends and no specific restraints are put on her activities. She thus has largely the same freedoms as any other 15 year old when in London. There is no evidence that she has come to any harm whilst on these weekend visits;
ii) The Local Authority also explained that some residents at the Placement are provided with key fobs so they can enter and leave the house as they choose. However, the management at the Placement have taken the decision that CC should not currently have access to a key fob. Hence, CC is required to live in a locked building, and can only leave with the consent of the Placement staff, in contrast to other residents of the home who have a greater measure of freedom; and
iii) Whilst CC is prevented from having access to the Placement internet, she has had her "smart phone" returned to her after a period when it was confiscated. The contract for this smartphone includes data and is paid by a relative. Thus, CC has the ability to access the internet on her phone, to use social media, including sending and receiving messages with photos, as well as using the phone for voice calls. No explanation was given as to why the removal of her ability to use the internet was a restriction that was necessary to protect her from one or more risks but the decision was taken by Cambian staff for her smartphone to be returned to her. It is equally unclear why she is allowed internet access on her smartphone but is prevented from using the house Wi-Fi.
The factual background
"CC is a vulnerable young person who has experienced periods where the care she has received has not been good enough throughout her childhood. She has experienced parental substance misuse, unstable parental mental health and a lack of routine and boundaries. CC was cared for by several different members of her extended family, when her mother has been unable to meet her needs or has been serving a prison sentence. Sadly, CC's extended family do not wish to care for her for the remainder of her minority. Her three siblings are all being cared for by family members with CC being the only sibling cared for by the Local Authority, this will no doubt further impact on her emotional wellbeing, sense of belonging and feelings of rejection. CC is vulnerable to exploitation; she struggles to identify risk in relationships and finds it difficult to maintain friendships. CC need support to develop age-appropriate self-care skills and her current ability is indicative of her early life experiences. To summarise, CC very much needs to continue to settle at the Placement so that she is able to receive the support and stability she needs to address her experiences."
The Placement's Risk Assessment
"It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology".
" Acquisition of money, clothes, mobile phones etc without plausible explanation;
Gang-association and/or isolation from peers/social networks;
Exclusion or unexplained absences from school, college or work;
Leaving home/care without explanation and persistently going missing or returning late;
Excessive receipt of texts/phone calls;
Returning home under the influence of drugs/alcohol;
Inappropriate sexualised behaviour for age/sexually transmitted infections;
Evidence of/suspicions of physical or sexual assault;
Relationships with controlling or significantly older individuals or groups;
Multiple callers (unknown adults or peers);
Frequenting areas known for sex work;
Concerning use of internet or other social media;
Increasing secretiveness around behaviours; and
Self-harm or significant changes in emotional well-being"
"[The support worker] was with CC in her room and sat on her bed and CC was showing me her art book with all her beautiful art work in, as CC was showing me this her phone went off beside us both and it was snapchat, CC opened this snapchat and it was a picture of a Penis, and CC said "what the hell" and showed me, CC quickly come off the picture and it disappeared, this is when I said "why have you got that on your phone and who is that, CC then said "this boyfriend requested me and I accepted it" I said that she shouldn't accepted random people back and that she needs to delete this person now. In which she did as I witnessed.
Phone check completed.
Check in with CC"
"I was in the Care team office and CC knocked on the door. I answered and CC said that she had a few calls from someone that they used to know, being quite threatening. She was on the phone to this person as we were speaking and I asked her to hang up the call. She said that they said they were going to come and find her in a silver Mercedes and stab her in the face. I reassured CC telling her that we would never let anyone come into the house and in this situation would call the police. I asked CC if they know where she is. She said no, they don't. The only person that knows where she is, is her best friend and that's it. I asked CC to block the number. She said she already has but they call using hidden caller ID.
She said that she can change the setting on her phone to block this too. I advised that she did that and let me know if she receives any more calls or messages. I also let her know that I will be escalating this to Lexi as a concern. CC was happy with this. Before she left CC showed me a few of the messages which read what she had told me. That they were going to come and find her in a silver Mercedes.
CC later returned to the care team office and informed me that she has now changed all of her social media. She was wondering whether she would be able to change her mobile number. She explained that her Grandad pays for her O2 contract which she wanted to keep. I explained that this may be a possibility if she called up O2 customer services but I wasn't entirely sure. I explained that this would have to be done by the person that is named on her contract however. She explained that she hasn't spoken to her Grandad for five months and didn't want to cause him hassle.
CC managed herself during this incident and showed great maturity. She returned to her room where she settled for the night with no concerns"
"Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law: .
(d) the detention of a minor by lawful order for the purpose of educational supervision ."
"If the local authority cannot apply for an order under section 25 because there is no section 25 compliant secure accommodation available, I would accept that the inherent jurisdiction can, and will have to be, used to fill that gap, without clashing impermissibly with the statutory scheme".
"So, the appellant submits, it is wrong in law to use the inherent jurisdiction to authorise the Placements because that cuts across this statutory scheme, and the inherent jurisdiction must not be used where that is its effect. If support for this proposition were needed, she refers the court to Attorney General v De Keyser's Royal Hotel Ltd  AC 508, as well as other authorities, including authorities in the field of children law".
"There may, however, be Placements (perhaps more likely in the "primary purpose" category than the purpose-designed category) which can properly be said to be "secure accommodation" within the meaning of section 25 , but which cannot be used as such because they are children's homes and have not been approved by the Secretary of State in accordance with regulation 3 of the 1991 Regulations (see para 47 above). The argument that the making of an order, under the inherent jurisdiction, authorising Placement in accommodation of this type, would cut unacceptably across the statutory scheme cannot be dismissed easily".