Blood on our hands if suicidal girl dies, warns judge

Paterniano Del Favero
Agosto 4, 2017

Image caption Sir James said: "It is a disgrace. that a judge in 2017 should be faced with the problems thrown up by this case".

She is now being held in a secure unit where the judge said she has had to be physically restrained 117 times - twice in the week of July 20 to July 27 - to stop her killing herself.

"T$3 he conditions in which X is existing - I can not bring myself to use the word living - is shocking".

The girl is due to be released from her Young Offenders' unit, known only as ZX, in 11 days time, but neither the NHS nor the local authority has been able to find a bed in a secure mental health institute.

Medics treating her believed that, if released with nowhere to go but her home town, it will be nothing more than "a suicide mission".

She is due to be released in 11 days, but a secure unit place has not yet been found for her - a situation Sir James Munby said was "utterly shaming".

He added: 'If this is the best we can do for X, and others in similar crisis, what right do we, what right do the system, our society and indeed the state itself, have to call ourselves civilised.

"The honest answer to this question should make us all feel ashamed", Munby writes. X is part of our future. For my own part, acutely conscious of my powerlessness - of my inability to do more for X - I feel shame and embarrassment; shame, as a human being, as a citizen and as an agent of the State, embarrassment as President of the Family Division, and, as such, Head of Family Justice, that I can do no more for X.

"We are, even in these times of austerity, one of the richest countries in the world".

Munby - who ordered that his ruling be delivered to senior government ministers, including home secretary Amber Rudd and health secretary Jeremy Hunt - excoriates the failure of the public sector to provide for X, saying the state is failing to serve her basic human rights and is putting her life in severe danger.

"My judicial duty, as with every judge in this country, is "to do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm". The entrance to the Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court, admonishes those who enter to "Defend the Children of the Poor".

The court heard earlier that the girl is being held under a Detention and Training Order imposed at the Youth Court.

Sir James ordered her to be taken into care in June - after she made a series of "determined attempts to commit suicide" - and urged Cumbria County Council to leave no stone unturned in seeking a placement for her in an NHS psychiatric hospital.

Despite "unrelenting efforts" by the council and other agencies to find somewhere for her to go, no suitable NHS bed had been found and the judge observed: 'I might as well have been talking to myself in the middle of the Sahara'.

Sir James concluded: "I repeat with all the emphasis at my command, the considered view of staff at ZX: to send her back to any community setting, especially [her home town] "is a suicide mission to a catastrophic level".

The report says there have been 102 "significant" acts of self-harm - five of those in the week from July 20 - and 45 assaults and 25 attempted assaults on adults, and 16 incidents of significant damage to property.

"Staff do not think it will take more than 24 to 48 hours before they receive a phone call stating that X has made a successful attempt on her life".

Munby said there was a "substantial body of professional opinion" that X needed therapy in an appropriate clinical setting.

But a nationwide search had revealed that 'no such placement was availble anywhere in this country'.

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