Public law children – Radicalisation – 17-year-old travelled to Syria – Extreme views – Care proceedings – Findings sought as to views of family – Whether the girl should be permitted to return home
A final care order was made in relation to the 17-year-old girl with a care plan for her to return home
The 17-year-old girl, B, had been caught attempting to travel to Syria and materials were found in the family home which supported ISIS including violent images. Care proceedings were initiated in relation to B and her five younger siblings.
Following the decision in London Borough of Tower Hamlets v B  EWHC 2491 (Fam)  2 FLR forthcoming, B was removed from the family home but there had been difficulties in providing her with a foster placement and education provision.
The local authority sought findings inter alia that: the father held radical beliefs which he promoted within the family; the mother was complicit; and, B remained a radicalised child who posed a risk to herself, her family and members of the public.
The father’s evidence in respect of his failure to purchase internet monitoring equipment and his assertions that a USB stick containing Jihadist materials did not belong to him could not be relied upon. The mother accepted that she had failed to protect B. B accepted that she had been radicalised but not that she posed a risk to the public. She asserted that her views had now changed.
It was emphasised that the court’s paramount concern was the welfare of the children. Wider issues of public protection were for the Counter Terrorism Unit, the Government, Intelligence Agencies and for the Criminal Courts when considering appropriate sentences.
The factors leading to B’s radicalisation were particular to her, her parents and the family’s unique circumstances. B’s most pressing need was for an opportunity to decompress and to get respite from her ‘addiction’ to viewing damaging material. However, the reality of local authority care for B had been very different since there were no opportunities of a foster placement and schools were reluctant to offer her a place. She felt isolated and desperately wished to return home.
Placement with extended family members had been offered but the court concluded that they would find it challenging to regulate B’s contact with her family and it would be difficult for the local authority to monitor B.Given B’s age and the restrictive number of options the plan most likely to meet her needs was for her to return home. She would be able to resume her studies in preparation for her chosen career path in medicine. Her siblings did not share her extreme views and would be likely to challenge those beliefs. Her attendance at college and the social opportunities that would entail was another protective factor. Furthermore, the family could more easily be monitored while together than if they were separated. A final care order was made.