The high court ruled this week that Wandsworth Council does not
have to provide immediate housing for a homeless man who poses a
serious risk to the public.
Acknowledging the difficulties faced by councils in such
situations, Mr Justice Sullivan said Clifford Fentiman’s violent
past and mental health problems made him a particularly difficult
person for the London council to place.
“The council has not simply sat back and failed to try and find
accom-modation,” he said. “It has looked, and looked hard.”
He concluded that the council had done its best to comply with
its duty to provide secure accom-modation for Fentiman but was
“faced with a very difficult problem”.
He added that it would be irresponsible of the council to put
Fentiman in unsupervised accom-modation given that he posed a
Fentiman, who has been diagnosed with a personality disorder,
left Springfield Hospital in south London in July after six months
as a voluntary in-patient and has since sought interim
accommodation while a decision is made on his housing
But hostel and emergency bed and breakfast accommodation were
deemed unsuitable, and specialist hostels had refused him.
A council spokesperson said: “We are pleased that the judge has
recognised the immense difficulties local authorities face in
finding suitable accommodation in a complex and difficult cases
He added that the council would continue to look for suitable
accommodation but would “not place him somewhere that is not safe
for other people”.