Secure Accommodation Orders
In certain circumstances Social Services may make an application to place your child in Secure Accommodation. This involves Secure Accommodation Orders.
What is Secure Accommodation?
To be deemed as ‘secure’ a place doesn’t have to be specifically designated ‘secure accommodation’. The deciding factor is whether or not the child’s liberty is being totally restricted. In Secure Accommodation, the doors will be locked and the child will not be able to leave unsupervised. They will be able to have supervised visits from their family though.
When is a Child Placed in Secure Accommodation?
A child can be placed in Secure Accommodation if they are at risk of running away from home or from another type of residence. A child will also be placed into Secure Accommodation if it is felt that he/she will suffer significant harm from running away or will injure himself/herself or others. As you can see, having a child be placed into Secure Accommodation is really an extreme measure. However it is only done if the Court feels that it is best for the child and the people around them.
How Old Does a Child Have to Be?
The age range for children who are subject to a Secure Accommodation Order is usually 13-18. Teenagers can sometimes find themselves in trouble and might be putting other people at risk and themselves too. They might have been running away from home to spend time with unsuitable adults, or get involved in a sexual way with ‘at risk’ adults/offenders. They might also have been in trouble with the police following illegal activity. Children of any age may find it hard to differentiate between a good person and one that does not have their best interests at heart. In this way, they could find their lives and life choices spiralling out of control.
A child who is under 13 years of age cannot be placed in Secure Accommodation without the prior approval of the Secretary of State, unless the child is 12 and has been arrested by the police. If a child is over 16, a Secure Accommodation Order can be made if the child is already the subject of a care order or is currently living under the care of the Local Authority in non-secure accommodation. The court cannot make an order with regard to a child who is already 16 and is being accommodated in any community home in order to ‘safeguard or promote his/her welfare’.
The Child’s Appearance at Court
The court can’t consider making a Secure Accommodation Order if a child is not legally represented in court, unless the child decides not to apply for legal representation. However, the court should usually appoint a guardian to represent the child. The guardian will speak to the child and also give instructions to a solicitor. The guardian will also recommend to the court what he/she thinks is in the child’s best interest, but the child’s welfare is not the ‘paramount consideration’ in these proceedings. The Family Law Team at Ashmans Solicitors have many years of experience of acting for both children and parents when an application has been made for a Secure Accommodation Order. Our initial consultation is always free. In certain circumstances you will qualify for Legal Aid.
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