Man with learning difficulties ‘must remain in home’

family law

A man confined to a supervised residential home because he poses a danger to children should remain there, the Court of Protection has concluded.

The case concerned ‘N’, a man in his 40s with a learning difficulties sever enough to prevent him from leading an independent life. He also had a “paedophilic disorder” and tendency “to make contact with children for sexual gratification”.

However, sitting in the Court of Protection, Mr Justice Peter Jackson stressed that N had never reached  the stage of actually committing sexual offences against children.

His placement in residential care dated back to 1999, when he was convicted of arson and assault and sectioned under the Mental Health Act. After 18 months he was moved into residential care. Since then he has moved between a number of different placements. Social workers were concerned to find him continuing to make advances towards children and were forced to supervise him closely as a result.

The Judge explained:

“… in 2010 he was found to be dropping notes for children, despite being supervised in the community. This led on one occasion to an angry relative trying to lure him to a meeting with a view to harming him. He had to leave the home he was in and has been resident in his current placement since September 2010.”

The facility, funded by the local authority, was described as a “locked environment for managing people with challenging behaviour.”

N is supervised within the home and escorted at all times when he leaves it.

Since 2010 his living arrangements have been classed a ‘deprivation of liberty’ authorized under the Mental Capacity Act.

N, with legal assistance, has twice challenged his confinement in the home. The first challenge was rejected by Mr Justice Moor in 2012 but he brought a further challenge in 2014.

His legal team also questioned his formal status as a ward of the local authority, a role which enabled them to determine where he should live, but this challenge was dismissed by the First Tier and Upper Tribunal courts.

In the Court of Protection, Mr Justice Peter Jackson said there was “no dispute” that N’s placement was a ‘deprivation of liberty’ from a legal point of view.

“He is under continuous supervision and control and he is not able to go out and about freely.”

The Judge considered N’s current attitude to children. He believed that he no longer posed any risk and pointed to a record of good behavior for several years. But he also claimed that his inappropriate feelings towards children were “natural” and had expressed a wish to adopt a child, despite the very unrealistic nature of this idea.

The Judge said:

“These are to my mind clear examples of his inability to understand the issues that have to be considered when making decisions about his care arrangements.”

He declared:

“Having considered all the evidence, I … find that N lacks the capacity decide on his care arrangements. His learning disability deprives him of insight into the persistence of his paedophilic disorder. For him to go into the community alone would not be merely an unwise decision, but an action taken without any real understanding or balancing of the risks he poses and the risks he faces.”

With a view to further hearings, however, authorization for N’s confinement was only extended for a further three months.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson concluded the ruling with a message for N himself:

“Looking to the future, I repeat my encouragement to N to make the best use of the many freedoms that he does have, rather than dwelling on those of which – for his own sake – he is deprived.”

N (Deprivation of Liberty can be read here.

Photo by Matthew Kirkland via Flickr

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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