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Mr Justice Hayden will continue to relist case to keep the heat up

Copy of judgment to be sent to Minister in case where a secure accommodation place cannot be found

London Borough of Southwark v F [2017] EWHC 2189 (Fam) concerns proceedings in respect of a 14 year old "F" who was made subject to a care order in favour of the London Borough of Southwark ("the Local Authority").  Following a "careful investigation and assessment" by a Child and Adolescent psychiatrist, the welfare conclusion in the care proceedings was that F should be placed in a residential unit.  However, F absconded from there and was discovered in a crack den.  The Local Authority issued an application for a secure accommodation order and a deprivation of liberty application which was granted. The matter came back before Hayden J who accepted that the Local Authority had made "all attempts humanly possible to identify a secure accommodation unit" but had been unable to do so. A bed was available at a unit but it could not be allocated because of insufficient staff or resources to support the placement.

Hayden J describes how an impasse has been reached whereby F "cannot find accommodation of the type the court has deemed necessary to meet his interests and those of the wider public, nor can he remain in his present unit because the staff there have their own obligations to those within their care."

His Lordship commented that, "Ultimately, the responsibility for this must lie with the Minister of State for Education" and he directed that a note of his judgment should be provided to her.  He delivered his judgment in open court because he considered it a matter that falls within the public interest.

His Lordship cited with approval the approach of the President of the Family Division in Re X (A Child) No 3 [2017] EWHC 2036 (Fam) which attracted a public outcry in a situation which was "strikingly similar to this". 

His Lordship expressed the intention of listing the case before him again and indicated that he would continue to do so "so that the heat is never allowed to reduce and the urgency of F's situation not allowed to fade."

For the full judgment click here.