Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Story Fifty Two - Head of Safeguarding

The council's head of adult safeguarding was a corker. Not only did he have the responsibility for the role that his job title suggests but he was also the head of the supervisory body and responsible for the Deprivation of Liberty authorisations. That's an awful lot of power packed into a pair of size six shoes.

In a way he embodied everything about Hillingdon's arrogance. They had removed Steven from his home. They were refusing to allow him to return to his home. Their plan was to send him to a new life 100s of miles from his home. But they never saw that they needed any outside authority from the court for those decisions. He genuinely believed that he had the power to do that without scrutiny. In fact, his argument throughout the year was that it was down to me to bring the matter to court. They could do what they liked. If I didn't like it, I could seek assistance from the court. I don;t know about you but I call that gold plated arrogance.

There were several references in court to this position:

"The service manager replied on 26 April, agreeing that "the Court of Protection is the correct place for this matter to be resolved." He suggested that Mr Neary might wish to take independent advice and agreed to set up an early meeting to review the evidence. In the event of major differences which appeared to have no resolution, he said that Mr Neary might wish to refer the matter to the Court of Protection."

"Hillingdon's position remained unchanged, as reflected in a message from the service manager to colleagues with reference to the holiday and generally: "In the final analysis, Mr N can take the whole matter to the C of P if he feels a DOL should not be in place."

"It was written following advice from the service manager, who reiterated that Mr Neary would have to initiate court proceedings if the matter could not be resolved. He also advised that "looking ahead, it would be helpful to demonstrate that LBH have involved Mr N in whatever alternative plan for Steven's future comes out of your professionals meeting."

Thankfully, Justice Peter Jackson had this to say on the manager's position:

"I have already indicated that the protracted delay in applying to court in this case was highly unfortunate. There are repeated references, particularly by the service manager, to the burden being on Mr Neary to take the matter to court if he wished to challenge what was happening. That approach cannot be right. I have already referred to the decision in Re S, which rightly observes that the practical and evidential burden is on a local authority to demonstrate that its arrangements are better than those that can be achieved within the family. It will discharge the practical burden by ensuring that there is a proper forum for decision. It will not do so by allowing the situation it has brought about to continue by default. Nor is it an answer to say, as Hillingdon has done, that Mr Neary could always have gone to court himself, and that it had told him so. It was Steven's rights, and not those of his father, that were in issue. Moreover, local authorities have the advantage over individuals both in terms of experience and, even nowadays, depth of pocket. The fact that an individual does not bring a matter to court does not relieve the local authority of the obligation to act, it redoubles it."

So, next time you go to rob your neighbours home, advise them that they will have to go to court to stop you doing it - the onus is on them to prevent you carrying out a burglary.

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