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Keehan J deprecates “two of the most egregious abuses of section 20 accommodation”

Child accommodated under s 20 effectively from birth to age 9

In Herefordshire Council v AB [2018] EWFC 10, Mr Justice Keehan has criticised Herefordshire Council for what he described as "two of the most egregious abuses of section 20 accommodation" by a local authority.

In a single judgment dealing with the separate matters of AB & CD and EF & GH, Keehan J considered the accommodation of two young people by Herefordshire Council under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 for a period of eight years (CD) and nine years (GH) respectively. In the former case, CD has been accommodated by the local authority from October 2009 when he was 8 years old, care proceedings only being brought in September 2017. In the latter case, GH had been accommodated effectively from birth to age 9, when care proceedings were brought again in September 2017.

Giving judgment in the matter of the misuse of section 20 CA 1989 alone, Keehan J cited his judgment in Northamptonshire County Council v AS & Ors [2015] EWHC 199 (Fam), and the President's dicta in relation to this issue in Re N (Children) (Adoption: Jurisdiction) [2015] EWCA Civ 1112. He went on to state:

The judge was clear that he considered the authority to have failed both children "so very badly" (paragraph 55). These failings were wholly accepted by the present Director of CSC at Hertfordshire Council.

For the judgment, prefaced by a more detailed summary by Anita Rao of Field Court Chambers (from which this item is derived), please click here.