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Lawyer calls for improved safeguarding for children placed under Deprivation of Liberty orders

Leigh Day human rights lawyer Anna Moore says immediate action is needed to protect vulnerable young people who are detained under a court order, as senior Family Court Judge called the issue a “crisis”. 

Posted on 23 May 2024

Children across the UK who are deemed at serious risk from themselves or from others and so detained under ‘Deprivation of Liberty’ (DoL) order are often exposed to exploitative and controlling environments away from their families, due to a lack of specialist providers across the country.  
Last year, Anna Moore wrote about the increasing concerns expressed by professionals working with children that the current legal framework is doing little to protect society's most vulnerable, which can have a long-term impact on their mental wellbeing. 
Senior Family Court Judge Sir Andrew McFarlane told the BBC that judges should take other options into consideration when considering DoL applications so that young people are not placed at risk unnecessarily. Reiterating his concerns, Leigh Day partner Anna Moore is calling for improved regulation of accommodation that children are placed in to ensure that children are not in unsafe environments. 
The BBC article shared the stories of multiple young people who since turning 18 are choosing to speak out about their experiences of being detained and isolated from their families as children, such as being cut off from their families and constantly supervised and restrained inappropriately.  
The BBC reports that there are thousands of children across England and Wales who have been placed under DoL orders, with the youngest being just seven years old. The numbers have risen drastically in recent years, with 102 DoL applications for under 18s in England being made between 2017-2018, rising to over 1200 applications in 2023-2024.  
Anna Moore said: 
“The increase of the number of ‘DoLs orders’ being authorised for children is a symptom of the lack of suitable and regulated accommodation to keep these young people safe. The use of unregulated accommodation to house the most vulnerable children in our society is a national scandal. Those working in the family courts have been aware of the extent of this issue for a long time. With the most senior Judge in the family court voicing his concern about this “crisis”, the government must take action to ensure that there are sufficient suitable places and properly trained staff to keep these children safe.” 

Anna Moore
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Anna Moore

Anna Moore is a partner in the human rights department.

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