The making of a secure accommodation order lies at the extreme end of the court’s powers. However they are not uncommon. They are in fact fairly regularly used in relation to teenagers who put themselves in risky and harmful situations apparently through choice. Such an application will usually arise following a period of time in foster care or residential accommodation. They will often involve teenagers who are the victims of sexual exploitation or who engage in alcohol and/or drug misuse.
The deprivation of a child’s liberty is something which family practitioners have perhaps unavoidably become hardened to. The case of Re W (A Child)  EWCA Civ 804 is a timely reminder of some of the fundamental legal principles in respect of secure accommodation orders but also raises a number of ideological points with which many may feel sympathy but which ultimately did not persuade the Court of Appeal.
In this case the child was rapidly approaching majority. In fact at the time of the appeal she was 17 years and 11 months’ old. So in this case not only was the...
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