The High Court has found in favour of four local authorities after campaigners challenged the councils for placing children in care outside of their areas.
The Good Law Project had taken legal action against four local authorities – Cambridgeshire, Essex and West Sussex County Councils and Derby City Council.
The campaigners argued that the practice of placing children in care outside of their areas could have ‘devastating consequences’.
Before yesterday’s court hearing, The Good Law Project said: ‘Their social workers visit them less, and they become cut off from the places they know, at a time when their lives are already turbulent and uncertain. The evidence is clear that it places them at increased risk of sexual and criminal exploitation.
‘Councils have a legal duty to do everything they can to ensure children in care are accommodated within their local area. Out of area placements are supposed to be a last resort. But increasingly, they’re not.’
The campaigners argued that the local authorities’ statutory duties to provide sufficient ‘in-area’ accommodation were not being met. However, at the hearing yesterday Mr Justice Choudhury concluded they did not have an arguable case.
Commenting on the decision, Jo Maugham, director of Good Law Project, said: ‘Looked-after children are amongst the most vulnerable in the country. And we know that the choice by certain local authorities to save money by dumping them in accommodation far from everything they know places them at increased risk of criminal or sexual exploitation.
‘We have yet to decide whether to appeal. But, come what may, we intend to continue to fight for the many children whose parents cannot look after them and who, tragedy on tragedy, are also being let down by the local authorities who are supposed to help them.’