Teenager in secure accomodation controversy ‘making phenomenal progress’, judge told

A “disturbed” teenager who has been at the centre of an accommodation controversy is making “phenomenal” progress after being found a place at an appropriate secure unit, the most senior family court judge in England and Wales has been told.

Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Division of the High Court, has been overseeing the girl’s case for more than 18 months.

Social services bosses told how they had struggled to find the girl the right secure accommodation

The judge heard that she had been kept in “wholly unsuitable” accommodation until August 2017.

A lawyer representing the council with responsibility for the girl’s welfare has now told the judge that since she began to get the treatment she needed her progress “has been nothing short of phenomenal”.

“Comment is superfluous, except to congratulate (her) on what she has achieved and to wish her the very best for the future,” Sir James has said in his most recent ruling on the case.

“I cannot help wondering where (she) would be today if she had not, in the nick of time, received the appropriate clinical assistance she so desperately needed.”

The judge added: “I leave it to others to ponder the moral of this story.”

He has not identified the girl.

Sir James raised concern about a shortage of secure accommodation units in England for nearly two years ago.

He said the problem had led to social services bosses at councils in England trying to place children in their care in secure accommodation units in Scotland.

A number of other family court judges have also raised concerns.

In 2014 Judge Sarah Singleton warned of a “terrible national shortage” of places.

In 2015 Judge Laura Harris told of her “great concern” about the lack of suitable secure accommodation for a 14-year-old girl who was said to be beyond parental control and at significant risk of harm.

She said there appeared to be a “real and ongoing problem” which was putting vulnerable youngsters and members of the public at risk.

Judges have raised concerns in rulings on case they oversaw.

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