Suicide of 17-year-old-girl in care could have been prevented, report says

An investigation into how a 17-year-old girl became the first child in more than 20 years to take her life in a secure children’s home has concluded that her death could have been foreseen and possibly prevented.

Taylor Alice Williams was found hanging at Aycliffe Secure Centre in County Durham in February 2017 after trying to harm or kill herself more than 100 times, an official report has found.

The report by the Prisons & Probation Ombudsman (PPO) was issued following an inquest in Crook, County Durham where a conclusion of suicide was reached.

The PPO report called for stronger national guidance for secure care homes on checking vulnerable young people.

The teenager from Worcestershire had been found dead in her room and the Ombudsman said she needed a sophisticated approach to being kept safe because of sometimes being at her very high risk of suicide or self-harm.

Aycliffe staff told the Ombudsman that Ms Williams was “at the edge” of what they could safely deal with, as she demonstrated a serious intent to end her life.

In her seven months at the centre, Taylor had tried to self-harm or take her own life on more than 100 occasions, the PPO said.

Elizabeth Moody, acting PPO when the investigation took place, said staff at the Aycliffe centre were caring and motivated.

But there were concerns about how the risk into Ms Williams posed was managed.

Referring to her as Child T, the Ombudsman said: “Unfortunately, I think Child T’s death could have been foreseen and, possibly, prevented.

“Aycliffe need to introduce a more comprehensive, multi-disciplinary suicide and self-harm assessment and management system for those young people judged to be at risk to themselves.”

The inquest at Crook heard how Ms Williams first came to the attention of Worcestershire children’s services when child protection plans were made for her as far back as 2011.

She was eventually placed at Aycliffe in July 2016 where she was looked after but with restricted liberty.

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