The case of Williams and another v London Borough of Hackney  UKSC 37 concerned the limits of a local authority’s powers and duties to provide accommodation for children in need under s 20 of the Children Act 1989 (ChA 1989), s 20. The Supreme Court ruled that accommodating children relying on s 20 requires real and voluntary delegation of parental responsibility.
The appellant’s children were accommodated by the respondent local authority following police removal of their eight children from their care pursuant to emergency powers under ChA 1989, s 46 to remove children to suitable accommodation for a maximum of 72 hours.
The appellants were arrested and interviewed by the police and released on police bail on the condition they could not have unsupervised contact with any of their children. The appellants were asked to, and did, sign a safeguarding agreement by the local authority to permit the children remaining with foster carers. They were not informed of their right to object to the children’s continued accommodation pursuant to ChA 1989, s 20(7).