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Tag Archives: recovery order

Missing child – left in police station


In this case, Newton J was very critical of both London Borough of Brent and the advocate who had originally appeared (who is not named and who is NOT the Mr Bain representing the Local Authority at this hearing)


London Borough of Brent and K 2015


B was a 16 year old child, in foster care. She had had a very difficult life and had been drawn into Child Sexual Exploitation as a victim. She absconded from her foster home. The Local Authority applied to the High Court for a collection order, and the Court was told that arrangements were in place for what would happen if and when the police located her.


In actuality, what happened was that the police located her that same day, at 7.30pm. They notified Brent of this. Brent were told at 7.58pm, by which time the case was with their Emergency team. Nobody turned up to collect this child until 2.30am, during which time she had remained at a police station. She didn’t leave the police station to go to a foster placement until 3.02 am

What happened in those intervening hours is nothing short of disgraceful. The Local Borough of Brent was told at 19:58 that the order had been executed. The Duty Team responded half an hour later. When they did respond it was to say that no adequate arrangements were in place, either for placement or transport. 


Remember that in making the collection order, the High Court had been told that afternoon that such arrangements WERE in place.

The strong message must go to all authorities that what occurred in this case is totally unacceptable, it has failed everyone, but principally B. It must not happen again.


What was happening in the meantime for B was deeply wrong

  1. The police, who self evidently ought to be dealing with other matters, had two response officers to sit with B, this vulnerable young person for several hours whilst the business of a busy police station continued around them. It hardly needs stating how inappropriate such an environment must have been for B. As a result of that, six extra officers were needlessly kept on overtime to cover their duties, at considerable expense. The police in this, as in other examples, in my experience discharged their responsibilities with enormous skill and care, not sadly reflected by the Local Authority.
  2. The police endeavoured to contact the emergency duty team in fact run by a different Authority, Harrow Social Services. The only information that was available to them were the details of the emergency duty team social worker, which, of course, the police already had, and who appeared to be quite unable to assist. The response was slow, she had received no arrangement details (because none existed), and seemed unable to put any in place. They refused to give details of anybody else in authority. The police were able eventually to speak to the emergency duty team social worker, but only after they had called her repeatedly. She refused to give the number of anybody in authority and able to take any decision, and in fact it was only, as I understand it, late in the evening (at 23:50) that the police were eventually given the number and name of the operations director for social care (who had been involved since 21.50), there continued to appear to be a lack of urgency. As a result, in desperation, the police contacted the council call line which is in Liverpool; it is a national call line dealing with all manner of emergencies. They had no contact numbers for Brent. The individuals there were unfortunately unhelpful, and refused even to identify themselves. As a result, B continued to be held in police custody for over seven hours. She was extremely distressed. Whilst I could not fault the dedication and professionalism of the police, it is difficult to imagine a more unsuitable environment.
  3. Eventually an escort arrived at 2.30am. Inexplicably, the Tipstaff were not notified when B had been collected from custody, nor were they notified subsequently of the details of the placement.
  4. It must be clearly understood by all authorities that when they apply to the court for these important and urgent collection orders that firm and appropriate arrangements MUST be in place, and MUST be held in place whilst the child is located. It is simply not acceptable for an application to be granted, as it most usually is, by a Judge and only then for enquiries to be made as to (a) placement and (b) transportation. Failure to do so is a failure by the individuals concerned and by the Authority amounting to abuse upon an already vulnerable child who has a right to protection.



The Judge was clear that in seeking the collection order itself, Brent had done the right thing and did not want to discourage Local Authorities making such applications when they were warranted, but that there had to be proper plans in place for what would happen when the police located the child, and proper lines of communication between the Local Authority and the police.  It seems ridiculous that the police in this case were driven to ringing numbers for a Council in Liverpool to get some communication with an out of hours service.

  1. What I say should not be thought to be an impediment on authorities making applications for such orders. They have parental responsibility and clearly such orders must be urgently sought in order to protect vulnerable young people, but it is totally unacceptable for them to have to remain in police custody while some sort of plan is cobbled together and then put in place.
  2. I have on this occasion deliberately not named the social workers involved in this case. It is now apparent that details were available to the Emergency Duty Team, because no arrangements had been put in place. [Suesspicous Minds note – I think that should read ‘no details were available’]It is unacceptable, to say the least, that the information given to the court was either inaccurate or misleading, or that placements or transport arrangements were allowed to fall, leaving it to the emergency duty team to try to devise a plan for placement for B, which they were not apparently well placed to do. I have the gravest reservations that the emergency systems in this authority are not remotely suitable or fit for purpose.
  3. The purpose of this judgment is to make sure that the practical arrangements on which the order is based must be in place and durable. Authorities must ensure that they are properly represented by advocates who understand what is required, and are able to give the information that is required by the court, accurate information, that the placements and consequent transport arrangements are ones which are available now and will be retained until the child has been safely recovered.
  4. If this situation ever arises again each individual can expect to be publicly named and shamed. It is incumbent on Authorities to ensure that robust processes are in place. That leaves aside any issue that the child or children concerned may have in their own right in applications or actions against the authority for a lack of care. I make it clear that what has happened in this case demonstrates a lack of proper practice and responsibility and must be rectified.


All of this would apply equally to applications for Recovery Orders (save for the bit about notifying the tipstaff) and Recovery Orders are somewhat more common than collection orders.

Contempt – adult breaching a recovery order

This is the London Borough of Newham v CA 2013

I note, wryly, the explanation at the start of the transcript as to why it took so long to produce  (an explanation which contains three misspellings and confuses ‘of a’ for the word ‘over’)

Note: this is a judgement from an oral judgement and sentence for contempt given in open court on 20th December 2013. The transcription was over very poor quality as a result it took some time to collate notes from those present and to produce this judgement

Anyway, in this case, there was an adolescent girl absconding from care and it was believed that she was being the victim of sexual exploitation. A recovery order was applied for by the Local Authority and obtained.

The child was located and was with an adult, Mr Quasim Shah, who was the subject then of this committal application. I pass little comment as to the circumstances in which this girl was with Mr Shah other than

1. Note the concern over what risk this girl was at

2. She was found attempting to leave his property at 5 Hartington Road on 27th November 2013. At the time he was found naked, or almost naked, and trying to stop police from gaining entry and by those actions he is in contempt of court, specifically the terms of the collection order.

3. The case has been referred to the CPS

Mr Shah had been served with the recovery order and denied knowing where this girl was – he is not  a relative or carer of hers (fill in the blanks yourself)


These are the breaches he admitted

(i) That he had text contact with the child throughout the 17th October 2013 from 00.21 up until 16.32 compromising of 152 text messages to the child from him and 117 text messages to him from the child which grew in frequency nearing one text per minute during the period 15.13 to 16.22. The child absconded from her placement at 17.20. The telephone contact completely stopped until 25th October 2013.

(ii) He it is accepted that he made plans with the child to abscond. It is not accepted that he physically collected her from her placement and thus aided her absconding, although he does not deny being involved in her absconding on that occasion.

(ii) He accepts that he had contact, every day, with the child from 17th October to 22nd October and on 25th October the calls and that the calls and texts stopped when the child stopped using her mobile.

(iii) He accepts that he provided his mobile telephone number ending 8840 to the child, which she used to call her mother on 1st November 2013; the child informed her mother that she was with a male in his 30 who was taking care of her.

(iv) He accepts that he telephoned the Mis-per Police Unit on 1st November 2013 and stated that he did not know the child except for the party on 17th October and that he did not associated with her.

(v) He accepts that he told the police that he had not seen the child since the party on 17th October when the police Mis-per telephoned him on the 2nd November 2013 trying to locate the child.

(vi) He accepts that he denied the child used his telephone on 1st November, that he had not seen her for a few weeks when police officers attended his home and spoke to him on 2nd November to try to locate the child.

(vii) He accepts that on 14th November 2013 police officers attended his home and spoke to him and he did not disclose his knowledge of the child or her whereabouts.

(viii) He also accepts that when the police officers attended his home he made some threats towards them. The exact nature of those threats as contained in the papers filed with the court is not accepted.

(ix) It is accepted that the child was found in his company at his property on 27th November.

(x) He accepts that he attempted to bar entry tried to impede entry to his property on 27th November 2013 by sitting on the floor naked, or almost naked, against the door and that he did not move from that position when asked by police officers three times.

(xi) Finally, he accepts that when service was attempted by the process server who came with the documents at his property dated 20th November, including the witness summons of the High Court he refused to open the door.


It is not a huge surprise that he received a prison sentence

In respect of the contempt in the face of this court I pass a sentence of six months.

In respect of the breaches of the collection order I pass a sentence of three months, to be served consecutively.


Many readers of the blog might be mentally comparing this sentence, for what happened here, with the sentences for grandparents who did not reveal where their daughter and grandchild had fled to, or the man who facing criminal charges declined to give a potentially incriminating statement in care proceedings on legal advice.

If you are ever served with  a Recovery Order, it is worth noting that if you breach it, and that is proved, Courts really do send people to prison for this.