This is a sad case seeking to raise the alarm about the drastic shortage of regulated placements capable of meeting the welfare needs of children with complex emotional and behavioural needs. The case concerned G who, in Mr Justice MacDonald’s words, is “a highly troubled and vulnerable young woman with multifaceted emotional and behavioural difficulties and at high risk of serious self-harm or suicide”.
This is the fourth judgment in these proceedings, following eleven hearings before the Family Division of the High Court. Mr Justice MacDonald was at pains to emphasise the infinite damage the lack of appropriate placements was doing to G's welfare and (secondarily) at great expense to the public purse. The Judge stated that he is "increasingly worried that, absent a suitable placement being found, it will be the sad responsibility of this court to deliver a judgment that records with respect to G a greater tragedy still." As with the previous judgments in this case, the Judge ensured a copy of the judgment was sent to the Children's Commissioner for England, the Secretary of State for Education, the Minister for Education, and others.
Proceedings under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court were commenced in respect of G in August 2020. G was 16 when the proceedings began. Lancashire County Council ("LCC") applied for an order authorising the deprivation of G's liberty and for secure accommodation pursuant to s.25 CA 1989. In August 2020, no placements (either secure placements or a regulated non-secure placement) were available for G anywhere in the UK. That situation remained at the time of this hearing, the main difference being that LCC now agreed with the Children's Guardian ("CG") that a non-secure regulated placement with therapeutic input was more appropriate for G than secure accommodation.
Read the full article on Family Law Week.