High Court rules young ward of court should remain in hospital in UK – 2019vol2#10

The President of the High Court ruled that it was in the best interests of a young girl, who had previously been made a ward of court, that she continued in her placement in a hospital in the United Kingdom.

The court was told that the Child and Family Agency’s (CFA) application was to continue the orders previously made given the existence of the registration of the previous court order in the United Kingdom. The barrister on behalf of the CFA applied for an adjournment to a date at the start of the next legal term with liberty to apply.

The barrister for the CFA told the court that the child had been in hospital since December 2018 and that her behaviour “continues to be troubling”. The court was told that the young girl was expressing ideas of serious self-harm and inappropriate behaviours towards others.

The President of the High Court made an order under section 27 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 prohibiting the identification of the young girl as a person suffering with a medical condition.

The barrister for the CFA provided the court with a report from the doctor and a report from the social worker which summarised the “serious concerning behaviour.”

The barrister told the court that what differentiated the current situation from the situation before the young girl travelled to the United Kingdom was that she had engaged extensively and productively with the allocated psychologist and as consequently disclosures were made in relation to the young girl’s childhood experiences. The court was told that the disclosures were summarised in the social worker’s report and that there was a chronology of serious disclosures made in July and there was a “tentative view being expressed” by professionals that the behaviour might be a fall-out from the child’s past experiences.

The court was told that due to the nature of the trauma the professionals considered that it could be linking her past experiences to her current behaviour and that there was a “need for considerable supervision in hospital”. The court was told that the treating doctor had sought a second opinion which resulted in the alteration to the young girl’s medication regime.

The barrister for the CFA told the court that there was no difference between the parties about the appropriateness of the orders and that all the parties agreed that the young girl should remain in hospital as her behaviour was described as “very disturbing and requires a high level response”.

The barrister for the mother told the court that she was agreeing to the orders sought.

The barrister on behalf of the committee told the court that he wanted to flag the recommendations in the report that there was an improvement by extra care and additional staff and that any move would be a “last resort” as the child was benefitting from the extra care.

There was a brief discussion about any effect Brexit may have and the judge said that he had heard in court that “Brexit is unlikely to affect minors but may affect adults [who are] the subject of orders of this court, but nobody knows what is happening”.

The judge outlined the background of the application and that it was an application on foot of an earlier order for review of the detention of a young girl in hospital in the United Kingdom. He said that the last time the matter was before the court in April he made an order for review. The judge said that he would “not rehearse the profound psychological difficulties” the young girl had “which manifest in various ways” but that the hospital has found them to be at the higher end of scale and they have created difficulties for them. The judge said that she was “at very high risk” and he was satisfied that the therapies had brought some improvement but that in other areas the improvement was “not so manifest”.

The judge said that he had considered the report of the treating psychiatrist and his view was that in the next six months she should remain in the placement and he hoped there would be further stabilisation and monitoring of her response to treatment.

Judge: “The development of the disclosure by her of serious sexual improprieties when she was younger … the view of medical personnel is that there may be more to come. The description would have been profoundly damaging at a time in her early years so they will have to be continued to be investigated and dealt with appropriately.”

The judge said that a comprehensive report from an independent social worker was commissioned and in the course of recommendations they asked for the detention to be continued and the judge said “that is the order I propose to make”.

Judge: “A move to another high support facility at this stage might be detrimental… [there is] concern because her behaviour might require further security. As long as she is in the current hospital extra care is provided.”

The judge determined that it was in the young girl’s best interests that she should continue to remain in hospital and he made that order. He listed the matter for further review in March 2020 with leave to apply to the court should there be any change in the young girl’s condition requiring the intervention of court.