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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