A recent BBC News investigation has found that looked-after teenagers over the age of 16 are at risk of exploitation and abuse whilst residing in unregulated homes across England and Wales. Such accommodation avoids inspection and regulation due to its provision of ‘support’ opposed to ‘care’, despite the vulnerabilities of these young people. According to figures from the Department for Education, about 5,500 looked after children in England were living in this type of accommodation, up 70% from 10 years ago. This increase is attributable to the rise of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)- these are experiences in which children are exposed to domestic violence, neglect, abuse, drug and alcohol addiction and untreated mental illness. The recent BBC news article highlights cases at Centurion Care. One incident involves a resident who was not provided with sufficient care following incidents of self-harm, and another incident involved resident who absconded for a week despite being seen getting into a car with a large group of males. One of the primary issues that the report highlights is that vulnerable young people were typically placed in towns away from where they were brought up. The Association of Directors of Children's Services said: "There is a national shortage of foster carers and a growing disconnect between the location of residential children's homes and need." The Department for Education in England has described how local authorities have a legal duty to ensure there is suitable accommodation for these children. Local authorities are in breach of duty in allowing the existence of these unregulated care homes that enable young people to be exposed to exploitation. In a welcome move, the government has recently announced a £30 million funding boost that will assist law enforcement with pioneering new technologies to track down paedophiles operating online and help safeguard children who have been abused. [...]
Paralegals are generally responsible for assisting a solicitor run their cases, without actually representing clients themselves. While they do not have to have any legal qualifications, nearly 95% of all the paralegals working at the National Legal Service have completed their GDL or LPC.
On occasion of the inaugural National Paralegal Day, we believe it is important to highlight and raise the profile of the often ‘lesser recognised’ members of the profession:
Kirsty Richards, Head of Family, says, ‘At NLS, we have a team of paralegals trained in advocacy, who over the last one year have done over 2000 Court Applications. Some members of the team are extremely experienced advocates who have done more court appearances than junior solicitors in the firm’
Harun Matin, Head of Crime says ‘Paralegals are essential to the growth & success of our firm. As an ABS structure, we allow our paralegals the opportunity to work on cases they have never done before and to really seize this opportunity’