Lance Scott Walker: Islington Council still has 28 'looked after children' living in unregulated accommodation
PUBLISHED: 12:12 26 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:29 19 July 2019
Islington Council still has 28 children placed in unregulated accommodation a year after a calling for new laws following the death of Lance Scott Walker.
Lance, 18, was under the care of Islington Council when he was killed by Idris Hassan, also 18, in August 2016. Hassan, who is schizophrenic, admitted killing him on grounds of diminished responsibility and is serving an indefinite hospital order.
The pair were living in the private hostel in Hayes, Hillingdon, when Hassan walked into an office where Lance was chatting with a carer and stabbed him in the back, before attacking him again outside.
Lance's aunt Patricia O'Neill feels both boys were failed by Islington and Ealing social services.
"They are to blame," she said. "They failed both boys. Hassan had severe mental health problems."
Last year a report by the Ealing Safeguarding Adults Board made a host of recommendations to prevent another tragedy taking place - including calling on the government to regulate facilities through planning permission and accreditation for providers.
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No facilities are regulated or registered with Ofsted, whether provided by the council, a housing association or private firms, because they are deemed to provide support rather than care.
Islington welcomed the report and said it had been raising the need for greater regulation at London-wide meetings. But as of May, there were 28 "looked-after children" - those in care - living in supported or semi-supported accommodation, 21 of whom were outside the borough. That's down from 37 in March, 2018.
The Gazette submitted an FOI last year to find out the figure, but was incorrectly told it was zero.
We asked again following last month's Newsnight report Britain's Hidden Children's Homes, which found more than 5,000 children were living in unregulated accommodation - up 70 per cent in 10 years.
The programme heard thousands of teenagers were "dumped" in unregulated homes and "abandoned to organised crime gangs".
Children's minister Nadhim Zahawi said children deserved stability and good quality accommodation.
He added: ""Semi-independent living can act as a stepping-stone for young people about to come out of care.
"Local authorities are required to make sure that children in care and care leavers are given suitable accommodation to meet their needs, including that they are safe and secure which is why I recently wrote to all Directors of Children's Services to remind them of this obligation."