Lack of Secure Accommodation Placements for Children

Lack of Secure Accommodation Placements for Children

Re X (Secure Accommodation: Lack of Provision) [2023] EWHC 129 (Fam)

This was an application by a local authority for a secure accommodation order for a 15 year old girl who had complex needs including a low IQ, high functioning autism and Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The child’s behaviour became increasingly difficult to manage and she exhibited self-harming behaviours, suicide attempts, violence to others and had been absconding. The child had previously been detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983.

There had been a previous secure accommodation order which had been place for a year before being discharged when it was felt it was no longer needed. The child was subject to a Care Order.

There has also been a previous deprivation of liberty order made while the child had been placed in a series of unregulated placements. The Local Authority had now applied for a secure accommodation order. However, despite such order being made, there was no secure placement available for this child and there were 72 live referrals for secure placements in England and Wales at that time. Only 2 beds were available for males.

The judge commented that due to the lack of secure accommodation placements, local authorities are applying for deprivation of liberty orders to place children in placements which are not appropriate to meet the child’s needs and are often the “least worse” option.

The judge wanted to draw attention to the lack of secure accommodation placements in the hope that Parliament and the Government act to change this.

The full case can be viewed here:

Maria Chainani is an associate in the family department specialising in representing parents, children and extended family members in care proceedings and private law children proceedings. Maria is contactable on 01268 240400