The limited number of placements in England and Wales and the complex needs of these young people, who have often reached a crisis point and desperately need to be securely placed for their own wellbeing, has lead to a shortage of suitable placements. Therefore in order to locate a secure placement for a young person, searches have often been undertaken outside of England and Wales, in Scotland. Having identified a suitable secure placement for a young person in Scotland, the difficulty has then arose as to whether the Court can make a secure accommodation order under Section 25 of the Children Act 1989 or the Court’s inherent jurisdiction, for a child to be placed in a unit in Scotland and whether the Orders would be enforced in Scotland.

This matter was recently considered in X (A Child) and Y (A Child) [2016] EWHC 2271 (Fam) where it was determined that a Judge in England cannot make a secure accommodation order under Section 25 of the Children Act 1989 if the child is to be placed in Scotland. Therefore the High Court in England would need to be asked to exercise its inherent jurisdiction on the grounds that the local authority sought to place a child within English proceedings in accommodation in Scotland. However, for the order to be recognised in Scotland a request had to be made to the Inner House of the Court of Session to exercise it extraordinary jurisdiction to make the required orders.

Therefore whilst not impossible to place a young person in secure accommodation in Scotland, the procedure was not straight forward and it was unclear what would happen if the young person absconded from a placement in Scotland and fled over the border to England or vice versa. Munby P observed in the case of X (A Child) and Y (A Child) [2016] EWHC 2271 (Fam) “But it seems to me that something really does need to be done.

It seems that the President’s words were heard by the introduction of the Children and Social Work Act 2017. This has amended Section 25 of the Children Act 1989 from 27 April 2017 and the amendment will now allow for the placement of children from England and Wales in Scotland, and the placement of children from Scotland in England and Wales.

Whilst the legal procedure has been simplified to allow for children from England and Wales to be placed in secure accommodation in Scotland, this is sometimes only beginning for the young person who will undoubtedly object to being placed in a secure unit and the initial crisis point that the young person has reached remains.

In addition to the above amended to Section 25 of the Children Act 1989, the Children and Social Work Act 2017 introduces changes to:

  • looked-after children, including care and adoption proceedings;
  • safeguarding of children;
  • children's social care; and
  • regulation and training of social workers etc in England.

It also makes provision for compulsory relationships education for primary school pupils in England, as well as sex and relationships education for secondary school children.

Further information

For further information about secure accommodation, local authority involvement with your children/family or assisting young people, please visit our website or contact Paul Nursall or Samantha Woolley.

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