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The Supreme Court issues judgment on unsecure placements for at-risk children

A long awaited appeal judgment was issued today by the UK Supreme Court in the case known as T (a Child).

Balfour+Manson acted for the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland as one of the Interveners in this appeal.

The effect of the decision is that courts may authorise a local authority to deprive a child of his or her liberty, even if that placement is in an unregistered children’s home, in the circumstances where there is absolutely no alternative. In England it is a criminal offence to accommodate a child in need of secure placement in an unregistered accommodation. A practice has developed of cross border transfer, where children in need of secure accommodation are transferred to Scotland, including to homes which are not approved as secure. This situation has arisen in England as a result of what the court describes a “scandalous lack of provision” of appropriate accommodation for the most vulnerable children.

This practice is now likely to increase after today’s decision.

Not only is this likely to put pressure on Scotland’s resources, it will mean more of the most at-risk children may be housed in locations not approved to meet their needs.

The full judgment can be viewed here.