The Supreme Court has ruled that a local authority was not to blame for the abuse and harassment suffered by two children, even though they housed them next-door to a family known for anti-social behaviour.
The children and their mother were housed by Poole Borough Council in 2006. For several years, they were subjected to verbal abuse, physical assaults, attacks on their property and threats of violence from their neighbours.
One of the children became suicidal and ran away from home. Several attempts were made by the local authority to tackle the issues, but they were unsuccessful.
One of the children was placed in child protection plan, and eventually the family was rehoused in 2011.
The children claimed they had suffered physical and psychological harm, and that the council had failed in its duty of care towards them. They argued that although the council had not harmed them directly, it had failed to protect them from a position in which they were at risk of being harmed.
The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the council had not assumed responsibility for the children’s safety or welfare. It had not taken the children into care and had no reason to do so, given that the mother’s parental care was not in question.
It had also not provided a service on which the mother would rely, and the behaviour of the mother and children showed no indication they had placed the responsibility of their care in the hands of the council.
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Case Citations:  UKSC 25 POOLE BOROUGH COUNCIL v GN (THROUGH HIS LITIGATION FRIEND THE OFFICIAL SOLICITOR) (2019) SC (Lady Hale PSC, Lord Reed DPSC, Lord Wilson JSC, Lord Hodge JSC, Lady Black JSC)
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