Essex denies failure to house teenagers

A council is fighting off claims in the High Court that it has
flouted its statutory duty to house vulnerable teenagers,
writes Shirley Kumar.

The Children’s Legal Centre at the University of Essex has
accused Essex Council of failing to provide suitable housing for
four vulnerable teenagers, therefore shunning its responsibilities
under the Children Act 1989.

All four children aged between 16 and 17, who cannot be named for
legal reasons, come from troubled backgrounds. Many are escaping
physical violence or have parents with alcohol or drug

Barrister Carolyn Hamilton asked the judge to give three of them
permission to seek judicial review of the council’s failure
to find them somewhere to live.

Justice Munby then heard the case of the fourth – a
17-year-old girl who had already won the right to a full

The girl, who the judge heard had tried to kill herself three times
when in bed and breakfast accommodation and had also swallowed
bleach and taken drugs, had been left “sofa surfing”
and extremely vulnerable.

Essex Council denied doing anything wrong and told the court it had
made every effort to help the children.

Barrister Andrew Sharland said that, in relation to the 17-year-old
girl, the council had taken “all reasonable steps to find
accommodation” and was trying “extremely hard” to
meet her needs.

Justice Munby reserved his decision on the girl’s case and
the three applications for judicial review until a later date.


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