M (A Child) (Secure Accommodation), Court of Appeal - Civil Division, December 06, 2018, [2018] EWCA Civ 2707

Resolution Date:December 06, 2018
Issuing Organization:Civil Division
Actores:M (A Child) (Secure Accommodation)
 
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Case No: B4/2018/2719

Neutral Citation Number: [2018] EWCA Civ 2707

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION)

ON APPEAL FROM SWANSEA CIVIL AND FAMILY JUSTICE CENTRE

HHJ Sharpe

SA17C01718

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 6 December 2018

Before :

LORD JUSTICE McCOMBE

and

LORD JUSTICE PETER JACKSON

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Between :

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Simon Stephenson (instructed by Duncan Lewis Solicitors) for the Appellant

Piers Pressdee QC (instructed by Pembrokeshire County Council and CAFCASS Cymru) for the Local Authority and Guardian

Hearing date: 29 November 2018

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JudgmentLord Justice Peter Jackson:

  1. A secure accommodation order permits, but does not compel, a local authority to keep a child in secure accommodation. A court hearing an application for such an order under Section 25 of the Children Act 1989 or Section 119 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 in respect of a child who is being looked after by a local authority must determine whether the criteria for keeping a child in secure accommodation are satisfied and, if they are, shall authorise the child to be kept in secure accommodation for a stated period not exceeding the maximum period specified by regulations.

  2. Section 25(1), contains the two alternative criteria for making an order:

    EITHER

    (a) that the child has a history of absconding and is likely to abscond from any other description of accommodation AND that if he absconds he is likely to suffer significant harm;

    OR

    (b) that if he is kept in any other description of accommodation he is likely to injure himself or other persons.

  3. It is established that in this context likelihood means a possibility that cannot sensibly be ignored (Re G (Secure Accommodation Order) [2001] 1 FLR 884 at 896).

  4. Absconding means something more than trivial disobedient absence. It may connote an element of escape from an imposed regime (Re W [2016] EWCA Civ 804 at [21]) but it is not limited by consideration of the intentions of the individual concerned. Judges can be relied upon to give the word its ordinary meaning and recognise behaviour that can be properly described as absconding in all the circumstances of the individual case.

  5. The maximum periods are specified in the Children (Secure Accommodation) Regulations 1991. Regulations 11 and 12 provide for an initial maximum period of 3 months and thereafter maximum periods of up to 6 months. In specifying the period of authorisation, the court must consider carefully the purpose to be achieved and assess as best it can the length of time which that is likely to take; the order should be for no longer than is necessary and the court should explain its reasoning (Re W (Secure Accommodation Order) [1993] 1 FLR 692 at 697).

  6. In In Re M (Secure Accommodation Order)...

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