High Court judge condemns ‘scandalous’ shortage of accommodation for vulnerable children

A High Court judge has described a shortage of suitable accommodation for “very troubled children” as “scandalous”.

Mr Justice Holman, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, raised his concerns after being asked to make decisions about the care of a “deeply troubled” teenage girl.

The judge said council social services bosses had been unable to find “suitable regulated premises” for the girl who was in council care and had behaviour difficulties.

He outlined his concerns in a written ruling after considering the case at a private hearing.

Mr Justice Holman did not identify the girl, who he said was in hospital, or the council involved.

The judge said: “The fact of the matter is that there is a grave, and now scandalous, shortage of suitable establishments in this country where very troubled children such as this child can be kept safe whilst respecting their dignity and, so far as possible, their liberties.”

A series of judges have, in recent years, raised concerns about a shortage of secure accommodation for troubled children in England and Wales.

Earlier this year, Supreme Court justice Lord Stephens described a lack of “proper provision” for children who required approved secure accommodation as “scandalous”.

Lord Stephens raised his concerns 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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