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Nottinghamshire County Council v LH (A child (No. 2) [2021] EWHC 2593 (Fam)

On 23 September 2021 Poole J refused an application under the Inherent Jurisdiction of the High Court to authorise the accommodation of a child (LH) in a psychiatric unit, when her condition did not justify the detention there and indeed the placement was not merely inappropriate but harmful:

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Nottinghamshire County Council v LH, PT and LT [2021] EWHC 2584 (Fam).  The fact that the local authority could not find a suitable placement was not a basis for authorisation.

The local authority identified an alternative placement in a children's home which would only accommodate LT and a team of carers while LT is resident (it would normally accommodate 4 children). The arrangements involved a high staff presence (3:1) and constant supervision. Poole J considered the arrangements for staffing and the use of physical restraint, the plans for transition and was satisfied that it was in LT best interests to move there from 27 September 2021. Poole J therefore authorised the move and placement and the consequent deprivation of liberty but not the period from 23th. In doing so he noted that the local authority had sought a secure welfare bed for a secure accommodation order, but there were 50 children ahead of LT awaiting secure welfare bed. He also noted:

"… although the inherent jurisdiction must be available in these troubling cases, it cannot be treated as a rubber stamp to authorise the deprivation of a child's liberty whenever the court is told that there is no other option available"

Case summary by Nicholas O'Brien, Barrister, Coram Chambers

For full case, please see BAILII