Senior judge worried for welfare of suicidal teen

family life

The life of a suicidal teenage girl will be put seriously at risk if no hospital bed can be found for her within days, Britain’s most senior family law judge has claimed.

In a hard-hitting ruling, Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, said we would have “blood on our hands” if the situation was not resolved quickly.

The 17 year-old, referred to as ‘ZX’, has already made a number of attempts on her life and requires psychiatric treatment when she is released from a secure unit later this month. But, at the time of the ruling, no places had been found in any suitable NHS mental health facilities.

Due to her age, ZX could not be placed in care, not could she remain in youth custody because suitable treatment is not available in secure units either.

The case came before Sir James at a rare High Court hearing outside London, in Manchester. The veteran judge was forthright in his description of the situation, referring  to it as an “outrage” and denouncing the “disgraceful and utterly shaming lack of proper provision in this country of the clinical, residential and other support services”.

He had coordinated efforts to find the teen the treatment she required but, said the President:

“I might as well have been talking to myself in the middle of the Sahara”.

He added:

“We are, even in these times of austerity, one of the richest countries in the world. Our children and young people are our future. X is part of our future. It is a disgrace to any country with pretensions to civilisation, compassion and, dare one say it, basic human decency, that a judge in 2017 should be faced with the problems thrown up by this case and should have to express himself in such terms.”

He added:

“If this is the best we can do for X, and others in similar crisis, what right do we, what right do the system, our society and indeed the state itself, have to call ourselves civilised?”

Clearly moved by the girl’s plight, the President said he felt shame at being unable to do more for her:

“…shame, as a human being, as a citizen and as an agent of the state; embarrassment as president of the family division and, as such, head of family justice”.

In order to ensure attention was paid to the ruling, Sir James ordered that copies of the ruling be sent to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Education Secretary Justine Greening and Justice Secretary David Lidington. An additional copy was to be sent to the chief executive of the NHS England, The Guardian reports.

The ruling is available here.

Photo by oddmenout via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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3 comments

Paul - August 4, 2017 at 3:49pm

This is just hilarious.
‘You have got blood on your hands’ without question. The family court and CSA are directly mentioned in the suicide notes of over 4000 men. Why does that noble concern not extend to all family law cases ?
Imagine just for one minute you are a mother who had found the body of her young son. Who had taken his life because of the treatment of the family court and was been financial squeezed by the CSA. Then you saw the outpourimg of concern this judge has for this poor young girl.
Men and fathers are treated as sub human.

Dr manhattan - August 4, 2017 at 8:50pm

He said he feels
“…shame, as a human being, as a citizen and as an agent of the state; embarrassment as president of the family division and, as such, head of family justice”.
.
Why has he not said the same about all the corruption past and present going on in the family courts that have destroyed thousands good families in the name of Forced Adoption Targets.

Abused, Accused, Convicted, Abused Some More - August 5, 2017 at 7:37pm

I do not disagree with the sentiment expressed by Sir James but as Paul’s comment previously, it seems laughable that there should be so much concern over this one specific case when in reality the Family Court has been responsible for innumerable failings that have without doubt left blood on their hands. I guess THAT blood has been washed off. I have to wonder, has the Family Court done more harm than good? In my own case, they helped to cover up both physical and emotional abuse and left the children at a greater risk. Sadly, I had to watch that risk unfold and become the reality. Years from now, the children will look back and see the damage that has been done by a family court beyond scrutiny. They will not be alone. It is right that the case SIr James speaks of should receive attention, but whilst he has spoken out on this, he has ignores so many others who have begged for his input. As time has passed we have started to realise that Sir James says what needs to be says, but has he actually brought any change at all? We hear that he has no control over the lower courts etc. Perhaps he has no purpose.

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