Councils unclear on duties to offenders

The failure of councils to meet the housing needs of young people
leaving custody reflects underfunding and confusion over where
responsibility lies, a leading social services director has

John Coughlan, chair of the Association of Directors of Social
Services children and families committee, was speaking as the
Howard League for Penal Reform said it would continue its legal
campaign against councils it claims are breaching their duty of
care to children leaving custody, under the Children Act 1989 and
the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000.

Coughlan said councils were not wholly to blame over the failure to
provide suitable accommodation for some custody leavers. He said:
“We do think there are issues of confusion [over responsibilities]
and application, but we also think there are issues of

His comments come ahead of a summit between the

Chris Callender, head of the Howard League’s legal team, said that
of 14 cases brought since April, three councils had accepted they
had reneged on their obligation to house and support under-18s in
their care.

In April, the league secured a ruling against Caerphilly Council
which clarified councils’ responsibility to provide suitable
accommodation for young custody leavers who had been in care.

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