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A young 12 year boy, prone to violent outbursts, was detained in hospital by 15 police officers last month. He was physically and chemically restrained whilst residing in hospital. Seriously ill children residing on the ward had to be moved to different hospitals several miles away due to the disruption. This was due to the Local Authority, Wigan council, being unable to provide a specialised care placement in the community.

The body representing all of England’s directors of children’s services stated that this ‘shameful case’ demonstrates the systematic failings in England’s care services. The boy’s family were known to social services back in 2011 when his father made horrific threats of violence against the family. The child suffers from ADHA, autistic spectrum disorder, epilepsy and had history of self-harm. However he was not judged to have a mental illness which would have provided him access to psychiatric care. He was admitted to hospital after attempting to strangle himself at his children’s home.

3 days following the boy’s admission to hospital, Wigan council received a Court Order authorising the deprivation of the boy’s liberty on the ward, as the Local Authority held responsibility for his care. The barrister applying for the order stated that ‘in 30 years of practising law he had never had to ask a Court to authorise a regime for a child as shameful as this one.’

2 days after the Order was granted, a different judge, Mr Justice McDonald, overturned the Order stating “that is not a solution that can be countenanced in a civilised society. It would border on the obscene to use a protective jurisdiction to continue the boy’s current bleak and dangerous situation, simply because those with responsibility for making proper provision for vulnerable children in this jurisdiction have failed to discharge that responsibility.”

The judge ordered Wigan council to find a specialist community placement and commented on how significantly the boy’s presence on the paediatric ward had disrupted the care arrangement for an entire region of the UK.

The director of Wigan council’s children services, Colette Dutton stated “the warning signs are there across the country, urgent action is needed, we will be far from the only Local Authority to be seeing further demand for additional resources requests for children with more complex needs. Local Authorities urgently need support and better regulation of the market. It should be remembered that at the centre of all this, is this welfare of some of our most vulnerable children and the system should be responsive to their needs and not geared towards profit making in its current form”.

It is clear that the failings of the Local Authority not only affects the children that reside within its care, but now those who do not. Careful structuring and individual case planning is clearly required for children with complex needs and these children should be dealt with on a case by case basis. Vulnerable children deserve a care plan sufficient to meet their needs. It will be interesting to note whether the Government provides any assistance or guidance for additional support over the coming months.

If you have suffered failures at the hands of a Local Authority, our experienced Abuse Claims team headed by Natalie Marrison are here to help. For a confidential discussion, please contact our Ramsdens Abuse team on 0113 877 1834 or email