Local authority not responsible for foster care abuse

Children|November 13th 2015

The Court of Appeal has ruled that local authorities cannot be held liable for children abused in foster homes.

In NA v Nottinghamshire County Council, a woman who was abused in two separate foster homes sought to hold the local authority responsible for what she went through. Her original application was rejected by a lower court. The judge in that case ruled that the lack of control from a local authority was “essential to the whole concept of foster parenting”.

Natasha Armes chose not to remain anonymous, despite her right to do so. She challenged the original judge’s ruling in the Court of Appeal but it was upheld.

Lord Justice Tomlinson decried the “cruel” and “utterly despicable” treatment Ms Armes had received in each placement. However, he called foster care “a function which the local authority must, if it thinks it the appropriate choice, entrust to others”.

He said that once a child has been placed in foster care, the local authority “discharged rather than delegated its duty to provide accommodation and maintenance for the child”.

Lady Justice Black also agreed with the original verdict. She said that “even proper care on the part of the local authority cannot always prevent harm coming to the child from the foster parents”. Making a local authority liable for abuse committed by foster parents could have a negative impact, as they may decide against such placements even for children who would benefit from it, she insisted.

To read the full judgment, click here.

Photo of the Royal Courts of Justice by Jasn via Flickr

Author: Stowe Family Law

Comments(5)

  1. David Mortimer says:

    Privatizing who looks after children removes the safeguards which were put in place to protect them.

  2. David Mortimer says:

    Under corporate law’ no individual can be held personally accountable.

  3. David Mortimer says:

    This legislation was consolidated in the Children and Young Peoples Act 1933 and the Children Act 1989.

    These are the national implementation of Articles 3 and 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    Section 1(1) of the Children and Young People Act 1933 is UN Article 19(1) Protection of Children from Violence. The sentencing guidance for the offence is UN Article 19(2) Prevention of Violence Towards Children, as cited from the recent Munro Review of Child Protection.

    The state is required to provide social programmes to support families in preventing child neglect and abuse. These are specified under section 4 Part 1 Schedule 2 Children Act 1989 and include services to families under Part III (section 4(1)).

    The services are provided in an integrated manner, as described in section 3 Child Care Act 2006. Provision is based on the section 1(3) Children Act 1989, the welfare checklist, and Working Together to Safeguard Children.

    The services are intended to meet the the child’s learning and development requirements of section 41(3) and the welfare regulations of section 43(1). This is UN Article 3, the best interests of the child following section 1 – 5 and Schedule A1 Mental Capacity Act 2005.

    That is child care and protection law in the UK.

    There is a single child neglect and abuse offense. The offence is child cruelty under section 1(1) Children and Young Peoples Act 1933.

    This offence, in the criminal law, is exactly mirrored in the definitions of child neglect and abuse in Working Together to Safeguard Children (2013).

    The offence, and the definitions in Working Together, are negligence offences. They are in respect to the negligence of the person with responsibility for the child when the child is a victim of an offence.

    Under section 1(2) a state’s official is expressly liable for the offence and under section 17 a person with parental responsibility or with care of the child is expressly liable.

    According to a recent Parliamentary briefing memoranda there are no prosecutions explicitly in respect to sections 1(2) and 17. If this neglect and abuse data were published it would become clearly apparent to all that the UK Government has not one iota of interest in child protection.

    At a more sophisticated level, prosecution of the offence is the evidential basis of evidence based health and welfare policy (see Cartwright, Nancy and Munro, Eileen (2010) The limitations of randomized controlled trials in predicting effectiveness. Journal of evaluation in clinical practice, 16 (2). pp. 260-266. ISSN 1356-1294, http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/28826/)

    Professor Eileen Munro is, of course the government’s child protection advisor.

    http://www.ukfamilylawreform.co.uk/whoaretheirpoliciesdesignedtoprotectchildrenfrom19thdecember2013.htm

  4. ianjosephs says:

    1. I would have thought the main concern would have been to find out why the child had been removed in the first place .If she had been removed from a safe environment with loving parents due to someone’s opinion that because she might be emotionally abused one day in the future she should be given to complete strangers (and unfortunately sexually abused there ! )A case for sueing the LA I would have thought ….
    If on the other hand she had been removed from a “baby P type environment” then there was proper justification for the move and no cause for action against the LA;
    It is stated as fact with no proof whatever that social workers etc were not aware of the abuse going on at the time.
    My experience of similar cases tells me that if they had been they would have done their very best to cover it up ; Children in care are muzzled and gagged and forbidden to tell their parents about the terrible abuse they sometimes suffer in fostercare otherwise contact is immediately stopped;If children go to the police to report abuse in care they are told to consult their social worker who will usually accuse them of exaggeration or lying as indeed to be fair some children do lie about abuse if they think it might help them to return home but a great many tell the truth! Remember the case of the boy who saw his quite well known grandmother at contact with a broken jaw injured while in care?Both he and the grandmother at contact were fobidden to mention it or ask how it happened by the supervisor who threatened to stop contact if one word about it slipped out !
    Headline in the following Booker column “Don’t mention my broken jaw”!
    Free speech and free communication is forbidden to children when taken into care.Their laptops and mobile phones are confiscated to isolate them from family and friends,and later at contact they cannot discuss their case or coming home.These kids are treated worse than murderers in prison who can phone out and discuss their case with their visitors !
    Perhaps the unfortunate woman sexually abused in care was one of those children and if so she should now be compensated.
    2. Parents have to sign an agreement before contact is allowed forbiding them to mention their case,or the possibility of the child returning home or to criticise the Foster carer .I have seen a great many such agreements and even posted two on my site http://www.forced-adoption.com !Free speech forbidden! (but allowed to serial killers in prison) How disgraceful and how illegal is that???????
    Similarly phones etc are confiscated in every case of the thousand I have come across and once taken into care (often by armed police at 7am!) children cannot then phone family or friends. Isolation occurs in EVERY case unlike serial killers who can phone out from prison to their families but children when taken into

  5. eve says:

    this is bang out of order social services are meant to protect kids not abuse them thereself

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