The court had to decide whether the P had capacity to decide where he resides, the care he receives, to have contact with others and access to the internet and social media. The court concluded that he did have capacity to make those decisions.
The P is in his mid-twenties. He has a diagnosis of autism and mild learning disability. During the course of his childhood, he was exposed to a number of difficult life events, including domestic and alcohol abuse, bereavement and inappropriate sexual activity. The P has been known to social services since 2012 and to mental health services prior to that. He currently resides in a supported placement funded by the local authority. The P has a sexual fetish, namely paraphilic infantilism, leading him to engage in risky behaviour, including contacting males on the Internet and thereafter going to meet them. The local authority relied on a number of instances of such alleged behaviour as evidence that the P lacks capacity to make decisions with respect to his contact with others.
The court concluded that the P does have capacity to make the decisions listed above. The fact that a decision to make contact with a man to satisfy fetish urge may be considered risky is not of itself evidence of a lack of capacity to take that decision. The question remains whether the P can understand, retain and use or weigh information when making a decision whether to contact others. The balance of the evidence before the court indicated that he can.
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