Scottish care system had ‘run out of room’ for Irish children

It has emerged that Scotland stopped taking Irish children into its care facilities in recent years because it did not have enough space for them in its care system.

Figures obtained under FOI from the Scottish Executive show that in 2011 there were 11 requests for the placement of Irish children in Scottish secure units, but just five were approved.

Of the remaining six applications, one was withdrawn and the other five were rejected because in the words of the Scottish Executive, there was “insufficient capacity within the Scottish Secure Estate to accommodate the request”.

By 2012, two applications were made and both were rejected, with one withdrawn and the other turned away again because of capacity issues. By last year, five applications were made and all were accepted.

Most recently, an Irish teenager stayed at St Mary’s in Glasgow, while in recent years Kibble in Paisley has taken in as many as six Irish children.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, John Harte, the director at Kibble, said that secure care was “no longer in fashion” in Scotland.

Figures from the rest of Britain show a much higher acceptance rate of applications from Irish authorities for the placing of children in facilities.

According to information from the British Department of Health under FOI: “Since July 2012, the department has received 12 requests for the placement of Irish children in health facilities in England. The department has given its consent in all but one of the cases. The remaining case is one where further information is currently being sought from the Irish authorities before further action is taken.”

Nine requests were made last year alone.

The Department of Health is currently the Competent Authority for the placement of Irish children in hospital facilities in England, which would include St Andrew’s in Northampton, where a number of Irish children have been placed.

The local authority in which St Andrew’s healthcare is based, Northamptonshire County Council, said: “Our records show that we have only been notified about three children that have been placed in Northamptonshire by the Republic of Ireland, all in 2011, and only one of these was placed at St Andrews hospital.”

The British Ministry of Justice said: “The number of requests from Ireland for the placement of a child in England and Wales under Article 56 of Brussels IIA that have been processed through ICACU (the Central Authority for England and Wales, the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit, based in the Office of the Official Solicitor and Public Trustee) between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2012, is 27.

* Supported by the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund


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