London Borough of Barnet v The Father and Another

Deborah Piccos of TV Edwards LLP acted in the recently reported case of the London Borough of Barnet v The Father and Another [2014] EWFC B144 (11 July 2014), which deals with the issue of the requirement to obtain a full police report in respect of the suitability of a proposed special guardian.

Section 14A of the Children Act 1989 deals with special guardianship orders. Paragraph 8 sets out that the Local Authority must investigate and prepare a report dealing, in particular, with the suitability of the proposed special guardian as well as other matters as may be prescribed by the Regulations.

The Special Guardianship Regulations 2005 Part 3, Schedule, Para 4 sets out what the Local Authority’s report must include.  The Regulations do not refer to the requirement for there to be a police report.

However, as the Local Authority’s principle objective is to determine the suitability of the proposed applicant, the Judge in this case considered whether a full police report was required.  In this case the Local Authority had already carried out initial police checks and therefore they already had some information about the suitability of the applicant. 

Her Honour Judge Levy upon Deborah’s submissions determined that there was therefore no need to postponed the making of the Special Guardianship order to await the full police checks, but for good practice ordered that the full police report should be lodged with the Court once it became available to the Local Authority.

This case has obvious practical implications in such applications.  Deborah herself referred to the judgment in respect of a similar application last week.