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Judge considers plight of troubled teenage girl

High Court Judge Mr Justice Bodey has made a temporary care order for a troubled teenage girl while her local authority continues efforts to find secure accommodation for her.

In a case described by the Judge as “troubling”, the girl, aged 13, is currently living in care. Her local authority applied for permission to send her to secure accommodation, under section 25 of the Children Act 1989.

This states that:

“Subject to the following provisions of this section, a child who is being looked after by a local authority may not be placed, and, if placed, may not be kept, in accommodation provided for the purpose of restricting liberty (“secure accommodation”) unless it appears—


(i)he has a history of absconding and is likely to abscond from any other description of accommodation; and

(ii)if he absconds, he is likely to suffer significant harm; or

(b)that if he is kept in any other description of accommodation he is likely to injure himself or other persons.”

The local authority claimed that the girl, referred to as ‘A’, had become a “danger to herself and others” and was “no longer containable” in an ordinary residential care unit. She had been living in the home since spring last year, after her adoptive parents decided they could no longer cope with her difficult behaviour.

They supported the authority’s application to transfer their daughter to secure accommodation.

Mr Justice Bodey noted the girl’s background: it was suspected that she had sustained a brain injury while still living with her natural parents. Her family had a history of degenerative brain disorder Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, and she herself had been diagnosed with such conditions as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder

Medical consensus was that A’s problems were “severe and extreme” but that they were behavioural in nature rather than rooted in mental health issues.

The Judge listed some of the girl’s recent behaviour:

“…over the last six weeks she has allegedly attempted to jump over the banisters; she has told staff that she had swallowed lighter fuel; she has swallowed shampoo; she has broken a window and climbed on to the roof; she has on two or three occasions smashed lights; she has asked if she could go to her room and jump out of the window; she has thrown a chair at staff and begun to hit herself on the head; she has pulled a fire detector from the ceiling, leaving wires exposed, and attempted to bite them; she has tightened a jumper cord round her neck going red. She has allegedly attempted to eat glass and threatened to kill others.”

Despite “very great” efforts, the local authority had been unable to find suitable secure accommodation by the time of the High Court hearing. The Judge therefore ordered that a fresh hearing take place, preferably before himself, when somewhere suitable was found.

Re A is available to read here.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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