Nikolas Clarke represents local authority in inquest concerning ‘looked after’ child

May 29, 2019

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.”