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More than 100 children in care were imprisoned under ‘deprivation of liberty’ orders, survey finds

More than 100 children in care have been imprisoned in their homes or in secure blocks under court orders that remove their freedom, a survey found yesterday.

It found that 134 children have been given ‘deprivation of liberty’ orders that mean they can be locked in homes or secure accommodation – even though they have not committed crimes.

The number of orders has more than trebled in two years, according to figures obtained by Freedom of Information requests.

The increase follows a scandal in 2017 when the most senior family judge, Sir James Munby, condemned the failure of ministers and social workers to find better help for children who pose a danger as ‘disgraceful and utterly shaming’.

And last month a judge ordered a 13-year-old to be locked in a council house at night in a bedroom which had been stripped of anything that could be used for self-harm or to attack others.

The teenager, who is considered a risk to themselves and to others, must also be constantly guarded in the house by four social workers, Mrs Justice Judd said.

Housing one teenager in a secure facility can cost councils many thousands of pounds a week.

The Freedom of Information requests to 91 councils in England and Wales by the BBC showed the number of deprivation of liberty orders for children and young people increased from 43 in 2016-17 to 134 in 2018-19. 

The Department for Education said it had invested £40million in secure provision for councils in England.

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