Vulnerable teenager housed in a tent by council

Qadir Mohammed -Student

A vulnerable teenager had to be hospitalised after being housed in a tent by Cornwall Council.

The 17-year-old approached the council for help after his relationship with his family broke down and he moved to another town. The teenager had a history of drug use and also had mental health issues.

The council offered him a place to live 30 miles away from the area he knew which he refused. He spent time sleeping rough until eventually he was provided with a tent by the local authority.

The council ended up replacing the first tent with another after it started leaking. The 17-year-old told the BBC that “It was a pretty traumatic experience for me because I’ve always lived in a house somewhere. They should have done so much more. They should have put me somewhere with a roof over my head”.

Due to the council’s repeated failures, this boy became emaciated and he was eventually taken into a psychiatric hospital after he was sexually assaulted. The boy clearly had behavioural and mental health problems, but these made him all the more vulnerable.

The council should have carried out an investigation if they had “‘reasonable cause to suspect that a child who lives, or is found, in their area is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm”. The council should have assessed the needs of the child and the ability of those who currently cared for him. The parents should have also been interviewed by the council as well to get more information into the boy’s scenario. That clearly didn’t happen in this situation.

Staffordshire University’s Legal Advice Clinic can advise on family and housing matters. Please call 01782 294800 for an appointment.

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