Judge concerned over 12-year-old living in assessment room at adult psychiatric hospital

A High Court judge has raised concern after being told a 12-year-old child with mental health difficulties is living in an assessment room at an adult psychiatric hospital.

Mrs Justice Judd said council social services staff had not been able to find suitable accommodation for the youngster.

She said the council involved was doing its “utmost” but described the youngster’s living arrangements as “deeply unsuitable”.

The judge, based in London, considered the youngster’s case in a private hearing at the Family Division of the High Court on Wednesday.

She heard from lawyers representing the council, hospital bosses and the youngster.

“This case concerns a 12-year-old child who is living in an assessment room at an adult psychiatric hospital,” said Mrs Justice Judd.

“Nobody has found a suitable placement so far.”

The judge said she would reconsider the case in the next few days.

“It is a deeply unsuitable placement,” she added.

“I am not blaming anyone. The local authority is doing its utmost.

“This child is 12. It would be bad if it was a 16-year-old, but this child is 12.”

A lawyer representing the child described the situation as a “nationwide scandal”.

Mrs Justice Judd considered the case at a private hearing.

She said the child, who lives in the south of England, could not be identified in media reports of the case.

She also said the child’s gender could not be revealed.

Many family court judges have in recent years raised concern about a shortage of regulated secure accommodation for children in England and Wales.

Earlier this year one of Britain’s most senior judges, Supreme Court justice Lord Stephens, described a lack of “proper provision” for children who require approved secure accommodation as “scandalous”.

Lord Stephens raised concern in a Supreme Court ruling on a case concerning another vulnerable teenager in July, and said the problem was a scandal that contained “all the ingredients for a tragedy”.

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