A leading judge has raised concern about the way "vulnerable and disturbed" children are being cared for.
Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Division of the High Court and the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, says provision is inadequate.
He has aired his thoughts in a written ruling after overseeing a family court case in London involving a 16-year-old girl who had attempted suicide and repeatedly harmed herself.
Sir James explained how all professionals involved thought that the teenager should be placed in a specialist secure unit.
But council social services staff had not been been able to find a suitable unit in the UK for six weeks.
Her parents had complained that she had not received the therapeutic input she "so much needs".
A specialist guardian appointed the represent the teenager's interests during litigation said she had been "failed by support services".
Sir James said: "This case is yet another chastening illustration of just how inadequately we provide for some of our most vulnerable and disturbed children."
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