English court approves sexually-abused girl’s placement at specialist unit in rural Scotland

An English High Court judge has approved the placement of a sexually-abused 14-year-old girl at a specialist unit in a rural area of Scotland.

The youngster had endured a “damaged and disrupted” early childhood and had been left with a “wide range of complex therapeutic needs”, Mr Justice Cobb said.

Her parents had accepted they “exercised insufficient oversight” into her relationships with “men who posed a sexual risk”.

She had gone into the care of Northumberland County Council 12 months ago after social workers concluded life at home was “harmful”.

The judge was told a series of foster placements had subsequently broken down.

Council social services bosses said she had been moved to a residential unit in a “rural setting in Scotland”.

Mr Justice Cobb said he was satisfied that the unit, which was “boundaried yet supportive”, was meeting the girl’s needs.

The judge said the distance relatives had to travel to visit was “regrettable”.

He said the “long journey” required “multiple changes of train”.

Lawyers representing the council said the girl had absconded from the unit a number of times.

The girl said she had absconded because she “craved adult attention”.

Detail of the case has emerged in a ruling on the girl’s case by Mr Justice Cobb, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

The judge said he had analysed a number of legal issues at a family court hearing in Newcastle upon Tyne.

He said the girl could not be identified.

Nearly two years ago the most senior family court judge in England and Wales raised concern about a shortage of secure accommodation units for children in England. Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division of the High Court, said in October 2016 that the problem had led to social services bosses at councils in England trying to place children in their care in units in Scotland. He highlighted the issue in a written analysis of cases involving two children.

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