CANTERBURY DISTRICT REGISTRY
B e f o r e :
|Re: K (A Child)
MISS BREESE-LAUGHRAN of Counsel appeared for the Mother
MR. HUMPHRIES of Counsel appeared for the Father
MISS BARTER of Counsel appeared for the Guardian
Crown Copyright ©
HIS HONOUR JUDGE SCARRATT :
"Ultimately, the responsibility for this must lie with the Minister of State for Education. I am going to direct that a note of this judgment be provided to her. I have also delivered this judgment in open court because I believe it is genuinely a matter that falls within 'the public interest'. In this I follow the approach of the President of the Family Division only a few weeks ago in the case of Re X (A Child) No 3  EWHC 2036 (Fam). In that case Sir James Munby set out the submissions of counsel addressing a situation strikingly similar to this. I propose to incorporate those here:
'The latest position statement prepared by Mr Jones is dated 28 July 2017. In the course of his submissions he said this:
A central concern in this case, which cannot be ignored, is not only the complete inadequacy in respect of available child and adolescent mental health placement provisions, but also the apparent lack of availability of any suitable temporary placements.
To say the current situation in England and Wales for children with X's… high level of needs is of concern is perhaps an understatement. This is a child who is subject to a care order and who is accordingly owed support by the local authority pursuant to its duties to her as a looked after child. This is also a child who has significant mental health and emotional issues, which make her behaviours both dangerous and uncontrollable. More than this, she is highly vulnerable. Despite all of these factors, she has been placed in a situation where weeks and months have gone by with there being no placement available for her countrywide … The provisions for placement of children and adolescents requiring assessment and treatment for mental health issues within a restrictive, clinical environment is worryingly inadequate. One has to question what would have happened in this case had X not received a criminal sentence? Given the level of her behaviours, where would she have been placed? What provider would have accepted her given that secure units were unwilling to do so prior to her receiving a custodial sentence?'
The President, of course, did not even consider that even these remarks went far enough. He added the following comments to which nothing need or indeed can be added:
'I agree with every word of that. My only caveat is that Mr Jones' language is perhaps unduly moderate. The lack of proper provision for X – and, one fears, too many like her – is an outrage.'"