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Powers to safeguard children in need could be exercised outside local authority area when the child was outside of the area

R (J) v Worcestershire County Council [2013] EWHC 3845 (Admin)

Related Member(s):
Chris Buttler QC
Related Practice Area(s):
Community Care Law

Whether the power of a local authority to provide services under the Children Act 1989, s 17(1) included a power to provide services when the child in question was outside their area. The child was part of a travelling family and suffered from several medical conditions, including Down’s Syndrome, which meant that the family required several forms of help. The local authority claimed that they were not able to or lacked the power to provide any help or support when the family was outside of the area.

Held: the power under the Children Act 1989, s 17(1) was capable of being exercised outside the area of the local authority and at a time when the child himself was outside of the area. S 17 conferred a broad, general duty which should be purposively construed. If Parliament had intended to restrict the provision of services within the area of the local authority while the child was actually physically present within that area, it would have done so by adding appropriate words. There was a distinction between the duty to assess and the power to provide. S 17(5) & 27 whilst not directly impacting on the scope or construction of s 17(1) do strongly indicate that Parliament contemplated and intended that the reach of the powers did extend to the provision of services outside the area when the child himself was outside the area.

Chris Buttler was involved in this case.