The High Court, in the face of no other option for, a 12 year old child ‘Y’, has had no alternative than to make a judgement not based on the child’s best interests as laid down by law, not having regard to the child’s welfare as the paramount consideration, but instead having to countenance “the lesser of two acknowledged evils” a hospital ward or the street.
Y was removed from his father’s care after reports of neglect and abuse, but the authority could not find an appropriate therapeutic care provision for him, given his significantly challenging and complex needs. Justice MacDonald found that despite the lack of a suitable alternative care arrangement for Y, the care regime being used in a hospital setting was not in his best interests, as it was ‘demeaning and … brutal’, and was therefore in breach of Y’s Article 5 rights under the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to liberty and security. Justice MacDonald found that the care regime was the most severe ever seen by the court, and the lack of other options did not justify the continuation of the restrictions, given that the local authority had a duty to promote Y’s welfare while he was in their care.
Child Y requires urgent assessment & therapeutic treatment within an appropriately restrictive clinical environment but no such care provision is available.
“It is, once again, my intention to direct that a copy of this judgment is provided to the Children’s Commissioner for England; to Lord Wolfson of Tredegar QC, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice; to the Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP, Secretary of State for Education; to Josh MacAllister, Chair of the Review of Children’s Social Care; to Vicky Ford MP, Minister for Children; to Isabelle Trowler, the Chief Social Worker; and to Ofsted.– Justice MacDonald, Wigan BC v Y (Refusal to Authorise Deprivation of Liberty)  EWHC 1982 (Fam) (14 July 2021) (bailii.org)
Read the judgement in full: Wigan BC v Y (Refusal to Authorise Deprivation of Liberty)  EWHC 1982 (Fam) (14 July 2021) (bailii.org)
NIROMP also recommends you read:
This article in Community Care involving references to Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s national director for social care having urged DfE to distribute children’s homes funding ‘at pace’ to tackle secure place shortage
This study, by Cardiff University’s CASCADE centre, which found that of 527 children referred to the specialist facilities between 1 October 2016 and 31 March 2018, only 319 were placed in a secure children’s home with the rest ending up in alternative accommodation.
This report, which provides a picture of young people in England referred to secure accommodation for welfare reasons – their pathways; their placement in either a secure children’s home or alternative accommodation; and their outcomes following referral.
More than 220 groups have criticised UK review of Human Rights Act reported in The Guardian