The Family Court has endorsed Kent County Council’s plan to return two sisters to the Czech Republic.
In 2009, the girls and their elder brother, aged 14, 15 and 16, moved to the United Kingdom with their maternal grandparents after living with them for most of their lives. A few years later, the local authority became concerned with the children’s welfare. This was because of their “very poor school attendance”, truancy and bad behaviour.
The council was particularly concerned that the two girls may be “involved in behaviour that was exposing them to the risk of sexual harm”, such as spending time with older men when they should be in school, drinking alcohol and possibly even using drugs. In 2014, they appeared in school with large bruises on their faces without a credible explanation.
Kent County Council responded to this incident by taking the sisters into care. One of them subsequently claimed that she had spent time with drug users and that “a male in a local town had attempted to sell her and another girl for sexual intercourse”. She also said that they had “spent time with older men who gave them money, drinks and cheap cigarettes in return for kisses”.
Sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mrs Justice Theis said it was clear that the grandmother “was unable to protect the children from the risk of significant harm”.
After the grandfather died, the grandmother returned briefly to the Czech Republic to organise his funeral. She returned to England hoping to take the girls back with her. The local authority supported this course of action and applied to the Family Court for their case to be transferred.
Meanwhile, the boy moved in with his father in England and expressed a wish to remain there, which was supported by his guardian.
Both girls said they wanted to move back to the Czech Republic, and Mrs Justice Theis noted that the plan was for them to live with their mother initially. She added that “the social worker there is aware of the position and will give such advice and assistance as the situation requires”.
Knowing the girls would have official support upon their return, the judge endorsed Kent County Council’s plan for them to travel with their grandmother back to the Czech Republic.
To read Re X, Y & Z (Children: care proceedings) in full, click here.