Judge raises concern over lack of secure accommodation for troubled teen at ‘considerable risk’

A High Court judge has raised concern about a shortage of secure accommodation for troubled children after being told a teenage boy is in a “grave” situation.

Mr Justice Cobb said the boy has links to gangs and intelligence shows there is a “serious and credible” threat to his life.

He said council social services staff responsible for the boy’s welfare have been trying to find a place in a specialist unit since April without success.

The boy is currently living at home and is at “considerable risk”, the judge said.

A number of judges have raised similar concerns about a shortage of secure accommodation for children with behavioural difficulties in England and Wales in recent years.

Mr Justice Cobb, who is based in London, outlined his concerns in a ruling published online following a recent hearing in the Family Division of the High Court.

Lawyers representing the council involved, which wants the judge to approve the boy’s placement in secure accommodation, explained the problems staff are having.

The judge said the boy cannot be identified in media reports and he has not named the council involved.

He said he wants to raise awareness of the boy’s plight and the plight of others.

There are “many young people” who require specialist secure placements, the judge said, but they cannot be “so placed” given the “scarcity of such resources”.

Mr Justice Cobb added: “The intolerable consequence of the current situation is that the state – in its embodiment as the court and/or as the local authority – is wholly unable to ensure the safety of (the boy) who is not yet 16 years of age.”

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