Suicidal teenage girl being watched every minute of day and night, judge told


A suicidal teenage girl is being held in secure accommodation and watched every minute of the day and night, a family court judge has been told.

The teenager had made a number of attempts to commit suicide and showed an "on-going desire" to cause herself a "high level" of harm, Sir James Munby heard.

Two members staff at the unit where she was held stayed close and kept "eyes on her" during the day.

One sat near her bed as she slept during the night, and alerted a colleague if she woke.

Social services staff have asked family court judges to make decisions about the teenager's care and Sir James, who is the President of the Family Division of the High Court and the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, is overseeing her case.

Detail of the youngster's living arrangements have emerged in a written ruling by Sir James following the latest round of litigation.

Sir James, who had heard evidence at a private family court hearing in Kendal, Cumbria, said the teenager was in her mid-teens but could not be identified.

He said the girl's mother thought that she was on a "path of self-destruction".

A psychiatrist had diagnosed a number of disorders and Sir James described a report by staff at the secure accommodation unit as "profoundly disturbing".

"(We) have been particularly concerned about the level of risk that (she) has presented with and her on-going desire to cause herself high level of harm," said the report.

"(She) has continued to demonstrate self-harming behaviours and has been increasingly creative in her methodology."

The report added: "Because of the risk relating to self-harm and concerns relating to her intentions to attempt to end her own life she is currently managed on a two-to-one constant observation, with staff being in close proximity with eyes on her at all times between 0800 and 2200 (or until asleep).

"Once asleep, she is on constant observation throughout the night on a one-to-one basis, should she wake during the night staffing levels return to two to one."

Sir James had ruled that the teenager should be placed in the care of social services staff at Cumbria County Council.

He said the teenager was approaching adulthood and he said social services staff had a "plan of action" for her future care.

Specialists said she needed therapy in an "appropriate clinical setting".

The judge said he had concluded that she had to be kept in secure accommodation for her own safety at present.