Birmingham City Council is believed to have become the first local authority to use civil injunctions to protect vulnerable children who may be at risk of sexual exploitation. Lorna Meyer QC, Stefano Nuvoloni and Heather Popley, all members of No5 Chambers, represented the council at various stages in the case, which saw the naming of a number of men ordered to keep away from young girls.
The barristers, supported by legal and children’s services teams from Birmingham City Council and by the West Midlands Police, successfully argued that the facts in the individual cases warranted the imposition of injunctions lasting until the child’s majority. If the men breach the order in the future and are found to be in the company of the vulnerable child, they may be sentenced to imprisonment for contempt of court.
A High Court judge had previously made temporary injunctions forbidding a number of men from approaching girls in public places after social workers and police raised concerns about the welfare of a vulnerable teenager in local authority care. The court heard evidence of how the 17-year-old girl had been found at a hotel with a number of different men at different times and that it was believed she had been ‘consistently sexually exploited’.
In the recent public hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London, Mr Justice Keehan granted long-term injunctions against the men and also lifted reported restrictions that had previously prevented the men’s identities from being disclosed. This was despite none of the men having been convicted of a crime.
All of the men are barred from approaching the girl until she is 18 and from approaching any female under 18 with whom they are not personally associated in public places.