Resort case highlights care crisis

Blackpool Town Hall
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A decision by Blackpool Council to place a teenager in care into secure accommodation in Scotland has put the spotlight on the shortage of places for challenging children.

A judge has used a Blackpool case study to highlight the issue.

Sir James Munby says the problem has led to social services bosses at councils in England trying to place children in their care in secure accommodation units in Scotland.

Sir James, the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, has highlighted the problem in a written analysis of cases involving two children.

He did not identify the two children but said the cases involved Blackpool Council and Cumbria County Council.

The Blackpool case related to a 15-year-old boy who was taken into care in February this year.

Sir James, who is president of the Family Division of the High Court and is based in London, said: “These particular issues arise because of
 the shortage of places in secure accommodation units in England, so that local authorities and courts in England, particularly in the north of England look to making use of available places in secure accommodation units in Scotland.

“Precise data are not available, but such material (including anecdotal material) as exists suggests that there have been at least five such cases.”

A number of lower-ranking judges in England have already raised concerns about the shortage of secure accommodation for children.

In his judgement, which was given in open court, Sir James said Blackpool Council sought authority to place the boy “in secure accommodation in Scotland, there being no available unit in England.”

The teenager was later transferred to residential non-secure accommodation.