A family judge has powerfully criticised the ‘terrible national shortage’ of secure children’s homes after no suitable placement could be found for a dangerous 15-year-old boy with an appalling history of violence and sex attacks on women.
Describing the disturbed teenager’s criminal record as ‘terrifying’, the judge said that he ‘abundantly satisfied’ the criteria for the making of a secure accommodation order. However, there were only 60 secure welfare placements available for dangerous children nationwide and social workers had been unable to find an appropriate home for him despite working around the clock.
Following his release from his most recent custodial sentence, he had to be placed in an ordinary home with six other children. The local authority had laid on three extra staff to keep watch over him, but that had not stopped him absconding and staying out until the early hours. He had admitted using cannabis – to which he had been addicted since the age of ten – during his nocturnal absence.
The judge observed, “I simply outline the facts which amount to a terrible national shortage of secure placements for children and young people who are a danger to themselves and to others. The reason why I have delivered this judgment and propose to authorise its publication is because this case demonstrates a gross shortage of resource. The shortage necessarily creates a lack of protection for the public and for the dangerous young person or child.”