During the Minors’ Review List in the High Court the court heard that a teenager who had spent four years in Boys Town non-secure detention in the US now needed to be admitted to secure care in Ireland, having returned here last summer. No secure place had been found after five hearings.
Things were deteriorating at an alarming rate in his community placement, said the barrister for the CFA at the first of these hearings, and the minor had disengaged from all services.
The application for secure care had already been submitted. However the next scheduled meeting for the Admissions and Discharge Committee was not for two weeks. A request had been put in to convene a teleconference due to the urgency of the case, according to the barrister. Nonetheless that might not translate into a placement due to significant pressure on secure care places.
The judge said it was at the high risk end and she did not think it could be allowed to go on. “He shouldn’t be allowed take drugs if he’s in care, can he not be stopped?” she asked.
The barrister for the CFA told the court that he was not taking drugs in the placement but there were practical limits as to what could be done. To stop him going out nightly taking drugs would involve curtailing his liberty and it was not a unit equipped for that. There was also the legal basis of curtailing of liberty as well as issues of safety of the staff and of the minor. He had a Juvenile Liaison Officer due to a criminal offence which had occurred last year.
Senior counsel for the guardian ad litem told the court that despite four years in Boys Town the minor “was back to this situation”. He had recently been missing for six days and was taking heroin and crack cocaine and was leaving his placement in the middle of the night. His application for secure care would have to be prioritised as there was no other option.
The barrister for the mother told the court that she had not met her son for many years but was alarmed by his deterioration.
“The history of the case is very complex,” said the barrister for the CFA, “a lot of efforts are being made to stabilise him. In the absence of secure care we need to be very creative in our thinking.”
The judge said she “considered the situation to be a bit dangerous” and asked the CFA barrister if he could get the decision on secure care expedited. “I’m not happy he is taking drugs – that’s the concern.”
“The current situation can’t continue,” said the CFA barrister.
The following week when the case came in on the Minors’ List, senior counsel for the guardian ad litem told the court that two psychiatrists felt there should be an application for secure care. The guardian was urging the CFA to obtain the relevant reports for the application.
One week later the court heard that the minor had moved three or four times in the last number of weeks and was currently placed in a holiday home. “Staying in holiday homes around the country is not feasible in the medium or long term,” said senior counsel for the guardian ad litem. They remained of the position he should be in secure care.
Senior counsel for the CFA told the court that good plans were being developed for a residential placement for him and that the minor did well outside of Dublin.
Two weeks’ later, the court heard that he would undergo an assessment in relation to a residential placement outside of Dublin. It remained a high risk case, said the guardian ad litem’s senior counsel, and the minor still had contact with people in Dublin who had dubious influence over him and had asked him to carry out unlawful activities. They were also offering to come and collect him. A psychiatric evaluation would now take place to “see if there was anything that can be done to assist him,” said the senior counsel. There had been no clinical guidance so far.
When the case returned the following week senior counsel for the CFA told the court that the minor had been seen by the consultant psychiatrist and the assessment was underway for the residential placement. He was making guarded progress. The matter was listed again for three weeks’ time and the judge told the CFA that she would expect the psychiatric report by then.