Society should be “ashamed” for not protecting a suicidal girl in secure custody, a senior judge has said.
The president of Family Division of the High Court said there would be “blood on our hands” if the teenager does not now receive adequate supervision.
Sir James Munby said the case shows a “disgraceful and utterly shaming” lack of clinical, residential and other support for her in England and Wales.
The girl, identified as X, has tried to kill herself a number of times.
She is due to be released in 11 days, but no placement in an adolescent secure unit has been found for her.
X was convicted at a youth court in June and detained in custody only a few days before her 17th birthday, the judgement revealed.
At the time, Sir James – who is president of the family division in England and Wales – noted the “enormity of the task facing the local authority” but stressed that the need for a final care plan was “overwhelming”.
During the latest hearing in July, he emphasized this need further, adding: “On a large number of occasions…X has made determined attempts to commit suicide”.
He said the entire staff group at the secure unit where she was being held reported that her goal was “not to go [to her home town], it is to kill herself”.
Sir James said in his latest judgement: “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?
“The honest answer to this question should make us all feel ashamed.”
He went on: “I feel shame and embarrassment; 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, that I can do no more for X”.
The judge said copies of the ruling would be sent to the chief executive officer of NHS England, the home secretary, the health secretary, the education secretary and to the justice secretary.