462% increase in children’s ‘deprivation of liberty’ applications

A report published by the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory highlights the ‘extreme vulnerability’ of children who are the subject of High Court applications that seek to deprive them of their liberty.  A danger dramatically amplified by the severe shortage of appropriate provision to meet their needs.

Although applications of this kind are intended to be made only as a ‘last resort’, the report notes that in England they increased by over 450% between 2017/18 and 2020/21.  The report can be accessed by clicking here.

The failure of the Government to take ‘urgent and effective action’ to address this problem has (most recently) been highlighted by the President of the Family Division in the case of Re X (Secure Accommodation: Lack of Provision) [2023] EWHC 129 (Fam).  In his judgment the President made clear, that in his opinion (para 22):

it must be the case that the State has duties under the European Convention of Human Rights, Articles 2 and 3, to meet the needs of these children and to protect them from harm’.


This would suggest that any young person or family experiencing the trauma of such an application, would be able to challenge this situation by bringing an Article 2 / 3 claim against the applicant authority. A number of leading law firms have indicated an interest in supporting people in this situation to take such action.

Posted 16 February 2023

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