LA's application for permission to deprive the child Patient of his liberty in circumstances where there was no secure accommodation available.
The Patient, a 13 year old child, had displayed a desperate history and catalogue of very seriously uncontrolled behaviour, damaging both to himself and to others. As a result he had been placed in no less than six different residential settings. Each such setting ultimately broke down, sometimes very rapidly, as the staff there were simply unable to manage his behaviour and keep him safe. The LA would have wished by last June to place the child in an approved secure accommodation placement. Such placements are currently very scarce and they were unable to find one. So it was that they hoped to place him in a unit which is not approved secure accommodation at X. Their plan was, however, that within X he should, if necessary, be subject to considerable restraint, including physical restraint, in order to keep him safe and prevent him from absconding, as he had done on occasions in the past. It is not necessary to apply to the High Court for a secure accommodation order. However, as no approved secure accommodation was available, the LA required the authorisation of a court for the inevitable deprivation of liberty of the child which would be involved.
Mr Justice Holman expressed his concern over the way in which applications of this sort are handled, saying that "the device of resort to the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court is operating to by-pass the important safeguard under the regulations of approval by the Secretary of State of establishments used as secure accommodation. There is a grave risk that the safeguard of approval by the Secretary of State is being denied to some of the most damaged and vulnerable children. This is a situation which cannot go on, and I intend to draw it to the attention of the President of the Family Division." The judge ordered that the child now be joined as a party to these proceedings and Cafcass must forthwith allocate a guardian to act on his behalf. A further hearing was ordered to be fixed in one month.
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