Judge rules ‘violent and self-harming’ boy, 12, who was forcibly restrained on children’s ward to protect medics from him must be moved to ‘appropriate accommodation’

  • Mr Justice MacDonald said boy is subjected to chemical and physical restraint
  • The child had hurt nurses and staff and left other patients frightened, judge said
  • At times, he was guarded by 13 police officers in effort to control behaviour 
  • New admissions to the paediatric ward were shut due to the risk child presented
  • The judge ordered the Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council to find alternative accommodation for the child, named only as ‘Y’ in a written ruling
  • Judges have raised concerns about a shortage of secure accommodation for children with behavioural difficulties in England and Wales in recent years

A High Court judge has ruled that a 12-year-old boy with behavioural difficulties must be moved to alternative accommodation after being ‘inappropriately placed’ on a hospital ward.

Mr Justice MacDonald was told that the youngster is subjected to chemical and physical restraint at the hospital, where as many as 13 police officers have been present in an effort to control his behaviour.

The judge said the boy had demonstrated ‘challenging, violent and increasingly self-harming behaviour’. The child had hurt nurses and staff and left other patients frightened. 

Mr Justice MacDonald refused to allow bosses at Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council to continue to deprive the boy of his liberty on the hospital ward and said they ‘simply must’ find an ‘alternative placement’ for him.

The judge outlined details of the case in a written ruling following a recent private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court.

He said the boy cannot be identified, referring to him in the ruling as ‘Y’, and has not named the hospital.

Mr Justice MacDonald was told that the youngster is subjected to chemical and physical restraint at the hospital, where as many as 13 police officers have been present in an effort to control his behaviour [Stock image]

‘In the circumstances, Y is currently and inappropriately placed on a clinical ward at (the hospital), where he has had to be subject to chemical restraint, physical restraint and five-to-one staffing in order to attempt to control his behaviour,’ said the judge.

‘At times there have been up to 13 police officers present on the ward in an effort to control Y’s behaviour.

‘That paediatric ward has now had to be shut to new admissions due to the risk presented by Y, and parts of the ward have been closed entirely.

‘Other gravely ill children have had to be moved to alternative hospitals across the North West of England and lists of elective surgeries for children in urgent need of such treatment have been cancelled.

‘Nurses and other hospital staff have been injured.

‘Other sick children and their parents have been alarmed and frightened.’

He added: ‘What will now happen to Y? The answer is that the local authority simply must find him an alternative placement.’

Mr Justice MacDonald, and a number of other judges, have raised concerns about a shortage of secure accommodation for children with behavioural difficulties in England and Wales in recent years [Stock image]

Mr Justice MacDonald, and a number of other judges, have raised concerns about a shortage of secure accommodation for children with behavioural difficulties in England and Wales in recent years.

The judge said the situation had arisen in the boy’s case because of ‘an acute lack of appropriate resources’.

He said he did not criticise medics, social workers and police involved with the boy’s care.

‘All those involved have done their level best in a situation that has bordered on the unmanageable,’ he said.

‘Insofar as fault falls to be apportioned, it must settle on those who have not made the provision required to address the needs of highly vulnerable children such as Y.’

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