Teenager involved with gangs and drugs to go into council care for his own safety

A 16-year-old boy who is involved in gangs and drugs should go into council care for his own safety, a judge has decided.

Deputy High Court judge Darren Howe ruled that the teenager can be placed in a specialist unit and locked in or restrained if necessary.

Council social services bosses said the boy, who has been living with his mother in London, is beyond parental control, and asked the judge to rule that he could lawfully be deprived of his liberty.

His mother agreed that he is beyond her control and told the judge that she is desperately worried about him.

The judge heard that the teenager has been arrested in Hampshire, Somerset and Kent and is thought to be involved in “county lines” drug distribution.

Three of his friends have died as a result of gang-related violence, the judge was told.

Judge Howe considered the boy’s case at a recent private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court and has outlined detail in a written ruling published online.

The judge said the teenager could not be identified in media reports of the case.

He approved a council care plan which means that the boy must be supervised and not allowed out of the unit alone.

Staff can also search him, remove belongings, restrict his use of phones, the internet and social media, and restrain or lock him in if necessary.

“In all the circumstances, I am satisfied that the care plan proposed by the local authority is both necessary and proportionate as, in my judgment and for the reasons I have given, no other arrangement is likely to be successful in protecting (him) from the harm to which he has been exposing himself or from the exploitation he has suffered,” said Judge Howe.

“Therefore, I authorise the local authority to deprive (him) of his liberty as may be required both when informing (him) of my decision, transporting him to the unit and when within the unit.”

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