Nikolas Clarke represented the local authority at the inquest into the death of MM. At the time of her suicide in August 2017, she had been a “looked after” child under section 20 of the Children Act 1989.
Her family were highly critical of the local authority’s care of her.
Background to the case
MM had had a difficult childhood with some involvement from social care, but for most of her childhood she remained living with her mother. In March 2017, when she was 17 years and 8 months old, she became looked after under s.20 of the Children Act 1989.
The local authority as her ‘corporate parent’ placed her into an independently-run unit to prepare her for adulthood.
Statutory reviews took place. Due to concerns about the unit’s management and risks to MM including child sexual exploitation, radicalisation, drug-dealing and unsafe sexual relations, the local authority proposed she be moved to another unit with higher supervision.
MM was unhappy with the move.
Within a few days of being moved, she was found hanging in her room and died later in hospital.
The coroner recorded a conclusion of suicide.
The coroner commented:
“There is no call for a preventing future deaths report here. I haven’t found any systemic failing. The move was planned. When it was effected is not a matter that gives rise to a PFD. I cannot make any recommendations especially since the local authority have re-configured their system of corporate parenting as we have heard.”