Stoke & Staffordshire

'Invisible' Stoke-on-Trent girl 'gravely neglected' in lockdown

Stoke-on-Trent Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Social workers said lockdown had made the victim "invisible" to authorities

A 14-year-old girl is being treated for a life-threatening illness after being "gravely neglected" by her family in lockdown.

The High Court's Family Division was asked to intervene to take the girl, from Stoke-on-Trent, into care.

Social workers said they were shocked by the girl's appearance on Thursday when she looked "terminally ill".

She was "concealed" by her family, the court heard, and the lockdown had made her "invisible" to authorities.

Mr Justice Hayden ordered she be treated as a matter of urgency.

"I am entirely satisfied that in the months of lockdown [the teenager] has been gravely neglected," he said.

"I manifestly hope that it is not too late.

"This case illustrates the vulnerability of young people in the lockdown period."

The teenager, who cannot be identified, is thought to have a rare skin condition.

Social workers from Stoke-on-Trent City Council said they had become aware she was ill within the last 10 days, but she had been "concealed" from them when they visited her home.

On Thursday, when they returned and insisted on seeing her, the girl was found shaking. Court action was launched immediately.

One social worker described the family as "invisible" and the judge agreed it had "not been physically possible for [the girl] to be seen by a professional" due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The council workers were not criticised but questions, were raised as to why the authority had not taken action sooner.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council declined to respond to specific points, saying it would be inappropriate to comment further on the case.

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