Following a strongly worded judgement on the welfare of a teenager thought to be a suicide risk, Britain’s most senior family law judge has approved new plans for her care.
Sir James Munby’s ruling expressed his anger at the difficulties the court had encountered in finding a place in a suitably equitably equipped mental health facility. The 17 year-old, from Cumbria, has made previous attempts on her life. She is currently in detention after being convicted of an unspecified offence at a juvenile court. While in the secure unit has engaged in “disturbing and distressing” acts of self-harm and requires constant monitoring. The amount of attention she requires from staff has led to complaints from other inmates.
Sir James described the difficulty finding a place for the troubled teen as “disgraceful and utterly shaming” and warned that the nation would have “blood on our hands” if no bed was found. But a few days ago a placement was finally located in a psychiatric unit and she will now be moved into this on Thursday, following the President of the Family Division’s approval.
Sir James claimed, however, that the move was “not a matter for congratulation”, adding that other young people with significant mental health difficulties deserved similar care.
“…a mass of informed, if anecdotal, opinion indicates that X’s is not an isolated case and that there are far too many young women in similar predicaments. How are they to be protected?”
The secure psychiatric facility has already invested £125,000 in extra staffing to help care for the girl after her admission.
Barrister Simon Rowbatham is involved in the continuing case. He told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
“They were stark words – ‘blood on their hands’ – that has picked up a lot of momentum, a lot of support for the case, a lot of criticism. And I think that the sad reality would appear to be that, had this case not been in front of the president and had the president not said what he said, we don’t know where we’d be…”