Secure Accommodation Orders– keeping teenagers safe?
Sometimes, teenagers can be ‘out of control’. They can become involved in situations that put themselves or others at risk and it is not possible for their parents to protect them. This may be that they are putting themselves at risk of sexual harm by spending time with risky adults, running away from home a lot and placing themselves at risk of physical harm or being involved in criminal behaviour. The risk could also be that the child might hurt themselves or others if left alone.
If Social Services are involved with a child aged between 13 and 18 who is putting themselves at risk it may be possible for that child to be placed in secure accommodation. If Social Services think it is necessary for the child to remain in secure accommodation for longer than 3 days they must ask the Court to make a Secure Accommodation Order.
Secure Accommodation is a placement for the child that they cannot leave; this means the doors will be locked and they will not be able to leave unsupervised.
This is an extreme measure and restricts the child’s liberty so should only be used when no other placement will do. The law states that this Order should only be made if the child:
(i) has a history of running away and is likely to run away from any other type of accommodation;
(ii) if he runs away, he is likely to suffer significant harm; or
(b) that if he is kept in any other type of accommodation he is likely to injure himself or other persons.”
If the Order is made it can last up to a maximum of 3 months and after that Social Services would need to return to Court if they wanted the Order to last any longer. Whilst the child is in secure accommodation they will still be able to see their family and this will be organised by Social Services.
If Social Services are involved with your family and intend to apply for a Secure Accommodation Order for your child you may be entitled to Legal Aid. If you are the young person that the Order is being asked for you will automatically get Legal Aid. You can speak to a member of the care team at Emery Johnson Astills to discuss this.
The care team at Emery Johnson Astills have experience acting for both children and parents when an application has been made for a Secure Accommodation Order. You can contact Emery Johnson Astills care department on 0116 255 4855.