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Ben Nelson-Roux Newsnight – Garden Court North Chambers

24 March 2023

Last night, BBC Newsnight featured (from approximately 14:40 onwards) the family of Ben Nelson-Roux who was 16 when he died in adult homeless accommodation.

Following a Government announcement yesterday, new regulations will be laid in Parliament on 6 April 2023 to ban the use of unregulated accommodation for 16 and 17 year old children in care and to outline minimum standards. This means that accommodation used to house teenagers in care must be regulated by Ofsted. It remains to be seen whether these regulations will ensure that 16 and 17 year olds are given the same care and support as younger children in these settings. In addition, there are concerns that the funding being made available to local authorities is simply not enough.

The new regulations will not affect children like Ben who are not accommodated by Children’s Social Care as looked after children but are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse and need mental health support. A child like Ben could continue to be accommodated in adult hostel accommodation without further regulation or legislative change. A step in the right direction would be to update the guidance on the provision of accommodation to homeless 16 and 17 year olds to make it clear that no 16 or 17 year should be accommodated in settings predominantly used to house homeless adults. However, there needs to be an equal focus on ensuring that there are effective systems in place to ensure that children like Ben receive adequate care and support above and beyond accommodation, including from mental health services.

Ben’s family were represented at inquest by Ciara Bartlam of our inquests and inquiries team, Gemma Vine of Ison Harrison solicitors. They are supported by INQUEST caseworker Jodie Anderson.

Ciara Bartlam is a member of our Inquests and Inquiries team and specialises in representing bereaved families whose loved ones have died in the community.