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Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Serious shortage of secure accomodation sees troubled boy from Kent placed in Scotland

Written by Brian Farmer

A troubled boy has been placed in secure accommodation hundreds of miles from home because of a shortage of specialist units for children, a family court judge has said.

Judge Richard Scarratt said the youngster came from Kent but was being held in secure accommodation in Scotland.

The judge said the boy was "yet another young person" who had fallen into a gap created by a "serious shortage of secure accommodation" for children and described the situation as an "outrage".

He said he hoped that Education Secretary Damian Hinds (pictured) would "take some action".

The judge has outlined his concern in a written ruling after analysing the boy's case at a private family court hearing in Canterbury, Kent earlier this month.

"This judgment concerns ... yet another young person who has fallen into a gap in the system created by the serious shortage of secure accommodation required to keep him safe," said the judge in a ruling published on Tuesday.

"I am at my wit's end to do what is best for (him).

"It is an outrage that no secure placement can be found in Kent or more local to Kent."

He said Education Secretary Damian Hinds would be given a copy of his ruling and added: "I ... hope that at least the Secretary of State may take some action to see what can be done for these children who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in these difficult and really quite dreadful circumstances."

Judge Scarratt said the boy could not be identified and did not reveal his age.

He said social services staff at Kent County Council had responsibility for his welfare.

The judge said the youngster had been living in a residential unit in Kent.

His behaviour had deteriorated over Christmas and unit bosses had said they could not accommodate him any longer.

He had been placed into a secure unit in Scotland in early January on the approval of another judge.

The most senior family court judge in England and Wales raised concern about a shortage of secure accommodation units in England for children more than a year ago.

Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division of the High Court, said in October 2016 that the problem had led to social services bosses at councils in England trying to place children in their care in secure accommodation units in Scotland.

A number of other judges have raised similar concerns.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire.