KCC defiant after High Court ruling on care of children seeking asylum

KCC County Hall

By Local Democracy Reporter Simon Finlay

The county’s top legal counsel has struck a defiant tone despite the High Court finding Kent County Council’s cessation of care for children who are seeking asylum is not lawful.

Mr Justice Chamberlain said on Thursday KCC is acting unlawfully by ceasing to accept responsibility for some lone asylum seeking children while continuing to accept other youngsters into its care.

But KCC’s General Counsel Ben Watts lashed out at the “wholly disproportionate strain” currently being placed on Kent.

However, the judge did press the urgency for “negotiation” between the Home Office and KCC, adding: “At the forefront of my mind are the interests of the children in Kent’s care.”

KCC has consistently stated it has been placed in an “impossible position” by shouldering the burden of young people arriving on Kent’s shores, many by small boats, without adequate resources to care for them.

The authority has also argued that the National Transfer Scheme (NTS), which is meant to disperse the children to other local councils, does not work as it should.

Mr Watts, in a confidential email to county councillors and seen by LDRS, wrote: “The wholly disproportionate strain on Kent’s Children’s Services without a properly functioning NTS continues to be unresolved and this was recognised by the High Court.

“The High Court also recognised that Kent should not be criticised for refusing to operate an unsafe service.”

Mr Watts said the court had used the “strict interpretation” of the Children Act because KCC had ceased to provide services to all children.

The email added: “In addition, the High Court has made clear that it expects the Home Office to work with Kent to resolve issues relating to the NTS and expects parties to return to court with a resolution very soon.

“This is an important step for the council in getting some oversight on the Home Office to utilise powers open to them in designing a scheme that will operate properly.”

LDRS revealed earlier this month that KCC was taking the Home Secretary Suella Braverman to court to seek a judicial review on the NTS scheme.

Mr Watts also stated: “The council is clear that we are in an impossible position choosing between competing statutory duties. We have also been consistent that a fully effective and mandated NTS would allow the council to be fully compliant with our statutory duties once more.

“The (NTS) scheme needs to work properly in order for Kent to be able to support all new arrivals from Dover whilst at the same time make sure that those already in Kent’s care are safe.”

At the High Court on July 27, Mr Justice Chamberlain also ruled that the Home Office’s use of hotels to house lone asylum seeking children has been unlawful.

The charity Every Child Protected Against Trafficking (ECPAT) took legal action against the Home Office over its use of hotels, claiming the arrangements are not fit for purpose.

The judge ruled: “It cannot be used systematically or routinely in circumstances where it is intended, or functions in practice, as a substitute for local authority care.”

According to reports, the Home Office has agreed to “continue” to work with KCC and other local authorities in the UK to ensure suitable placements for asylum seeking children.


    • If only we could. Both the Welsh and Scottish governments have slated Englands approach to asylum seekers / economic migrants / illegal immigrants calling it inhumane, barbaric and racist and both have said openly that they welcome them but when England tries to disperse them across the UK including Wales and Scotland they then start claiming it’s not fair, they haven’t got the resources to pay for them or the infrastructure to accommodate them and that it’s Englands crisis not theirs.
      The Scot’s and Welsh talk a good game but in reality they are hypocrites, and if the illegal migrants landed on their shores in the numbers we are experiencing they would act no different than the English government.

  1. Not Rwanda then.You really are something.They are children, perhaps you had better ponder on that.

    • Wales is such a terrible place for children?? Most of the parts I’ve been to are far better than much of Kent (I’d rather live in Llandudno than Margate!).

  2. We signed up to the UN Convention on these matters. Signed in 1951 by that notorious softee Winston Churchill.Lots of other countries take far more refugees than we do. France has four times the number the UK does, Germany has over three million and Turkey has over 5 million . The UK Government should carry out its role under the UN Convention !

    • I don’t think anyone is saying otherwise – certainly not me or KCC. The complaint is that the burden isn’t shared more equally with other parts of the UK, hence my semi-serious suggestion of sending them to Wales (or Scotland or Cornwall or Cheshire etc).

      • Of course, NO political party is going to propose that migrants are distributed more evenly around the UK, as it is a such vote loser for the rest of the country.

    • Paragraph 6 in the article:”The National Transfer Scheme…is meant to disperse the children to other counties.”

  3. Well I am confused Ms Pink is Peter Checksfield,who would have thought it!
    All that hair dye must have gone wrong and turned him pink.Still the same old unpleasant cobblers though.
    Fortunately for us all the Court of Appeal sets the rules and not the barmy court of Pink Checksfield’s,so all this stuff about Wales is so much hooey.
    Something the Pink Checksfield’s ought to consider is how much this little legal hissy fit is costing the tax payer. By my reckoning and KCC’s propensity for hiring expensive KC’s the bill will be not far short of £0.5m, maybe more.Not bad for an outfit pleading poverty.

    • Checksfield is only mentioning Wales because he’s trying to annoy somebody who is Welsh.As everybody knows, it’s not racism to say snidey things about Celtic Britons. Or so he seems to think.

  4. KCC say they can’t take them. No money or places to stay. They are right . However the government has starved councils across England with cuts so sending them elsewhere is very difficult and in some cases impossible. That’s why we had trouble in Kent. Government is a shambles with the boat people in general. Asylum claims are so slow they might as well give up doing them. Even the barge hotel has been delayed for more tests. Westminster is full of the most useless MPs of all parties I have ever seen and I have been around for many years. Just look at our two. So don’t expect any good things to come from them. This problem is going to continue for years to come.

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