“One of the measures of a civilised society is how well it looks after the most vulnerable members of its society.”

A flavour of a really important judgement by Sir James Mumby that needs to be read in full please.

Read at source: [2017] EWHC 2036 (Fam)



  1. What this case demonstrates, as if further demonstration is still required of what is a well-known scandal, is the disgraceful and utterly shaming lack of proper provision in this country of the clinical, residential and other support services so desperately needed by the increasing numbers of children and young people afflicted with the same kind of difficulties as X is burdened with. We are, even in these times of austerity, one of the richest countries in the world. Our children and young people are our future. X is part of our future. It is a disgrace to any country with pretensions to civilisation, compassion and, dare one say it, basic human decency, that a judge in 2017 should be faced with the problems thrown up by this case and should have to express himself in such terms.
  2. X is, amongst all her woes, a young person convicted in the Youth Court and a prisoner of the State. As long ago as 1910, a Home Secretary, speaking in the House of Commons, asserted that “The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any country.” In modern times the principle has expanded, so that, as is often said, “One of the measures of a civilised society is how well it looks after the most vulnerable members of its society.” If this is the best we can do for X, and others in similar crisis, what right do we, what right do the system, our society and indeed the State itself, have to call ourselves civilised? The honest answer to this question should make us all feel ashamed. For my own part, acutely conscious of my powerlessness – of my inability to do more for X – I feel shame and embarrassment; shame, as a human being, as a citizen and as an agent of the State, embarrassment as President of the Family Division, and, as such, Head of Family Justice, that I can do no more for X.
  3. If, when in eleven days’ time she is released from ZX, we, the system, society, the State, are unable to provide X with the supportive and safe placement she so desperately needs, and if, in consequence, she is enabled to make another attempt on her life, then I can only say, with bleak emphasis: we will have blood on our hands.
  4. My judicial duty, as with every judge in this country, is “to do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm.” There are occasions, and this is one, where doing “right” includes speaking truth to power. The entrance to the Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court, admonishes those who enter to “Defend the Children of the Poor.” Is less required of the Family Court or of the Family Division of the High Court? I think not.
  5. I direct that copie . s of this judgment be sent immediately to the Chief Executive Officer of NHS England, to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, to the Secretary of State for Health, to the Secretary of State for Education and to the Secretary of State for Justice.

Please read the judgement in full: In the matter of X (A Child) (No 3)3 August 2017 |High Court|Family|Family 

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