Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity
Strengthening Safeguards: Proposals to Enhance Protection for Vulnerable Individuals during Police Searches

Strengthening Safeguards: Proposals to Enhance Protection for Vulnerable Individuals during Police Searches

Strengthening Safeguards: Proposals to Enhance Protection for Vulnerable Individuals during Police Searches

 

The Government is proposing measures to bolster protections for children and vulnerable individuals subjected to police strip searches, including the requirement to inform parents and guardians.

 

Following the ‘Child Q’ case, reviews conducted by the Independent Office for Police Conduct and the Children’s Commissioner for England found that safeguarding during strip searches, particularly concerning intimate exposure, were not adequately prioritised, as stated by the Home Office.

 

A Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review concluded that Child Q, a black pupil strip-searched at school in 2020 at the age of 15 without an appropriate adult present, should never have undergone such a search. The proposed amendments to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 mandate authorisation by a senior officer for any strip search of a child or vulnerable person. Police are required to make safeguarding referrals to children’s services whenever a child undergoes a search exposing intimate areas, ensuring appropriate action, according to the Home Office. Further proposed changes include treating under-18s as children when there is suspicion, acknowledging safeguarding needs during intimate searches, and notifying a senior officer if no appropriate adult was present due to urgency. A six-week consultation commenced on April 30, seeking input from law enforcement, children’s services, and practitioners. Crime and Policing Minister Chris Philp stated, “Strip search is intrusive and should be used proportionately to ensure safety”.

 

Details of the consultation which closes at noon on the 10th June 2024 can be found here:

 

https://shorturl.at/eosxI

Cambridgeshire Council Criticised for Failings to meet Boy’s SEN: Ombudsman Orders Compensation and Reforms

Cambridgeshire Council Criticised for Failings to meet Boy’s SEN: Ombudsman Orders Compensation and Reforms

Cambridgeshire Council Criticised for Failings to meet Boy’s SEN: Ombudsman Orders Compensation and Reforms

 

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) recently ruled against Cambridgeshire County Council for several shortcomings regarding a boy’s Education, Health, and Care (EHC) Plan. The council has agreed to compensate the affected family with £13,200.

 

The case stems from Mrs X’s complaint, asserting that since 2018, the council neglected to fulfil most of the provisions outlined in her son Y’s EHC Plan, including access to necessary resources at his designated school. Mrs X also highlighted delays in reviewing her son’s plan and inadequate consideration for his transition to adulthood.

 

The investigation revealed significant faults on the council’s part, including the failure to provide a transition plan for Y’s education and inadequate educational support as outlined in his EHC Plan. Y was unable to attend school between January 20, 2021, and July 10, 2023, though he received one-to-one tuition during this period.

 

Moreover, the council faced criticism for delays in reviewing Y’s EHC Plan, failure to consider provisions for his transition to adulthood, and inadequate consultation with relevant professionals. To address these issues, the Ombudsman recommended specific actions, including providing detailed information on the SEND Information Hub and compensating the family for the distress and incurred expenses.

 

Cambridgeshire County Council has acknowledged the Ombudsman’s findings, apologised for the lapses, and confirmed compliance with the recommendations. They also noted the increasing demand for EHC Plans and reiterated their commitment to prevent similar incidents in the future.

 

The LGSCO’s decision can be found here:

 

https://www.lgo.org.uk/decisions/education/special-educational-needs/23-009-964

 

Cambridgeshire Council Criticised for Failings to meet Boy’s SEN: Ombudsman Orders Compensation and Reforms

Clarifying Reasonable Adjustments: The Significance of Trial Periods in Employment Law

Clarifying Reasonable Adjustments: The Significance of Trial Periods in Employment Law

 

Summary: The case of Rentokil Initial UK Ltd v Mr M Miller [2024] EAT 37 confirms trial periods as reasonable adjustments for disabled employees, ensuring fair consideration of alternative roles under the Equality Act 2010.

 

In the case of Miller, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) clarified that implementing a trial period can serve as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010. This ruling overturned previous doubts expressed by the EAT earlier in Environment Agency v Rowan.

 

The case centred on a disabled employee, the Claimant, who could no longer fulfil his role as a field-based pest controller due to being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. His disability hindered his ability to work effectively at heights and at pace.

 

Upon learning of the Claimant’s condition, the Respondent suggested alternative positions within the company. The Claimant applied for an administrator role but was subsequently dismissed following an unsuccessful interview. He argued that the failure to offer him the administrator position on a trial basis constituted a failure to make reasonable adjustments as required by law.

 

The tribunal ruled in favour of the Claimant, a decision upheld by the EAT on appeal. It was deemed that the Claimant’s disability placed him at a significant disadvantage in his current role, necessitating consideration for alternative employment to avoid dismissal. The proposed administrator role was deemed suitable, shifting the burden to the Respondent to demonstrate that offering the role, even on a trial basis, was unreasonable.

 

This judgment underscores the obligation of employers to diligently consider redeployment options, particularly when an employee’s disability prevents them from performing their current role. Even if only on a trial basis, exploring alternative positions can fulfil the legal requirement to make reasonable adjustments, thereby promoting inclusivity and fairness in the workplace.

 

The judgement can be found here:   https://www.gov.uk/employment-appeal-tribunal-decisions/rentokil-initial-uk-ltd-v-mr-m-miller-2024-eat-37

EOTAS: Legal Insights from LC and RC v Hampshire County Council [2023] UKUT 281 (AAC)

EOTAS: Legal Insights from LC and RC v Hampshire County Council [2023] UKUT 281 (AAC)

 

The Upper Tribunal case LC and RC v Hampshire County Council [2023] UKUT 281 (AAC) centred on the dispute over Section I of an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), specifically the criteria for naming a school. The disagreement arose between the suitability and appropriateness tests contained in sections 39 and 40 of the Children and Families Act 2014 respectively; section 40 addresses – “Finalising EHC plans: no request for particular school or other institution”. The appellant, a parent of a child named “O,” sought to leave Section I blank, opting for education otherwise than in school (EOTAS). In contrast, the local authority advocated for naming “C School” in Section I.

 

The core argument revolved around the nuanced difference between “suitable” and “appropriate” within the Act. While it was acknowledged that C School was suitable based on age, ability, aptitude, and special educational needs, the parent contended that it might not be appropriate considering broader circumstances beyond these factors.

 

The Upper Tribunal acknowledged a procedural error by the First-tier Tribunal, which applied the wrong legal test hence it is reasonable to conclude that suitability and appropriateness should not be used interchangeably. However, they deemed this mistake immaterial as it didn’t impact the consideration of welfare and safety risks. Notably, the case prompted some consideration on naming a school when initial provision is outside a traditional setting, emphasising the need to assess transitions, citing NN v Cheshire East Council [2021] UKUT 220 (AAC). Despite not providing a definitive stance on extended transition plans, the judgment highlighted the importance of evaluating attendance requirements during the transition back into school settings.

 

The decision can be found here:https://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKUT/AAC/2023/281.html

Education or Social Care for Young People: Understanding the Law

Education or Social Care for Young People: Understanding the Law

Education or Social Care for Young People: Understanding the Law

 

We often hear from young people who’ve been informed by the Local Authority (LA) that they’ll no longer maintain their Education, Health, and Care plan (EHCp) because they’re not pursuing academic qualifications. Instead, they’re advised to transition to social care services. Is this approach lawful? No.

 

Let’s delve into the case of Buckinghamshire County Council v SJ [2016] UKUT 0254 (AAC). This case addressed issues around capacity and the necessity of following academic subjects for an LA to maintain an EHCP. It was established that developing functional or vocational skills is appropriate, and all special educational needs should be met by providing the necessary special educational provision.

 

Here is a summary of the decision:

 

Capacity Issue:

The case dealt with a capacity issue involving a young person named Ryan, born on 22 February 1996, diagnosed with various conditions. His parents sought to be welfare deputies under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, but the request was denied. The Court of Protection ruled that disputes about Ryan’s residence should be resolved by the court, not a deputy. The focus then shifted to whether an Education, Health, and Care (EHC) plan was necessary for Ryan.

 

Young Persons and Capacity Issues:

The decision outlined three scenarios related to a young person’s capacity: having capacity, lacking capacity, or having capacity in doubt. The analysis delved into the legal framework, regulations, and the role of an “alternative person” when a young person lacks capacity. An “alternative person” in the context of special educational needs (SEN) refers to an individual who can act as a representative or advocate for a young person with SEN, for example in the process of obtaining an Education, Health, and Care plan (EHCP). The term “alternative person” is used to ensure that the young person has appropriate representation in the planning and decision-making process related to their special educational needs.

 

 

First-tier Tribunal’s Decision on Ryan:

The First-tier Tribunal considered Ryan’s case, where the local authority refused to issue an EHC Plan, arguing that further education wouldn’t significantly benefit him. The tribunal allowed the appeal, directing the local authority to issue a plan.

 

Arguments and Grounds for Appeal:

The local authority appealed, claiming the tribunal failed to consider whether Ryan’s needs could be met at the care home, that a plan was unnecessary for specified therapies, and that Ryan’s minimal progress meant a plan wasn’t warranted. The tribunal rejected these arguments, emphasising its jurisdiction and the need to stay within its limits.

 

Tribunal’s Decision Not in Error:

The Upper Tribunal affirmed that the First-tier Tribunal’s decision was not in error. It dismissed the local authority’s appeal, highlighting that the tribunal correctly focused on the issues presented by the parties. The decision emphasised that qualifications were not essential for education, and Ryan could still benefit from educational provision.

 

Conclusion:

This case is a useful reference if an LA argues that only the pursuit of academic qualifications justifies maintaining an EHCP.

 

The full decision is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/administrative-appeals-tribunal-decisions/buckinghamshire-county-council-v-sj-sen-2016-ukut-254-aac

 

 

2nd December 2023

Clarifying the Government’s Stance on Education, Health, and Care plans (EHCp’s)

Clarifying the Government’s Stance on Education, Health, and Care plans (EHCp’s)

Clarifying the Government’s Stance on Education, Health, and Care plans (EHCp’s)

 

The Minister for Children, Families, and Wellbeing, David Johnston, has addressed concerns about Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) following reports suggesting the government aimed to reduce their number by 20%.

 

In a letter to the Chair of the Education Select Committee, Robin Walker MP, Minister Johnston clarified that there is no intention to impose a 20% reduction in EHCPs. This comes after news in The Observer indicated that the government had engaged a consultancy firm as part of a programme called “Delivering Better Value in SEND,” with a purported goal of reducing new EHCPs by at least 20%.

 

Mr. Walker, who heads the Education Committee, pointed out that this appeared to contradict previous statements from Claire Coutinho, a former children’s minister, who stated that the Department had no intention of limiting EHCPs through the SEND and AP Improvement Plan.

 

Minister Johnston explained that their primary objective is to revamp the system to prioritise the child’s needs and provide necessary support earlier, potentially reducing the need for EHCPs. However, he reassured that every parent and family’s existing legal right to an EHCP will continue to be guaranteed when needed.

 

The 20% reduction mentioned in the contract with the consultancy firm does not represent a specific target or goal set by the government or local authorities. Rather, it reflects a potential outcome if the “Delivering Better Value” programme succeeds in helping schools and local authorities identify needs early and provide appropriate support without requiring an EHCP.

 

Minister Johnston also expressed his intention to respond to the broader comments and questions raised by the Education Committee, including requests for information regarding the proportion of inspectors with a background in special schools who inspect specialist settings.

 

In essence, the government’s focus is on improving support for children and young people with special needs, rather than reducing EHCPs. It aims to ensure that every child receives the right assistance, tailored to their requirements.

 

The passage of time will allow us to evaluate Minister Johnson’s claims more fully but more on the above can be found here:

 

https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2023-10-17/202873

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