(UK) Father of severely autistic teen fights council; girl hospitalized 21 months

Dec 24, 2018, Birmingham Live: Dad fights NHS for locking autistic daughter in 12ft ‘cell’ at psychiatric centre Jeremy, 50, won a fight against Walsall Council over his right to talk about his daughter Bethany who has been locked in a secure unit for 21 months A devastated father of an autistic teen locked in a ‘12ft cell’ at a specialist psychiatric assessment unit has spoken of her ‘inhumane and shocking’ treatment. Jeremy, a father from Walsall, claims he has not been able to hug his daughter - Bethany - for two months because she is being kept under lock and key in a tiny cell at St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton, a specialist psychiatric centre. Giving evidence to the parliamentary joint committee on human rights, the heartbroken dad told MPs and peers that the only way he can speak to her is through a hatch in the metal door. Beth moved out of the family home at the age of nine to her first residential school with other autistic children but she couldn’t cope with the boundaries and the placement collapsed. This led to Beth’s anxiety spiralling and a total of 17 different placements – all autism specific – failing, resulting in her move to the assessment and treatment unit (ATU) “It has destroyed the family,” Jeremy said. “My daughter is at St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton and during a majority of that time she has spent most of that time locked inside a cell, with no treatment. “She has had 17 failed placements, which has led for her to being criminalised. ATU’s are a very chaotic place so Beth saw self-harm, she heard screaming and she heard people distressed – this is not good for her condition. … He has told MPs he intends to take legal action over the detention of his autistic teenage daughter, claiming she is being held in "shocking and inhumane conditions" at an NHS-funded secure unit. "She is just a daughter who needs to live near her family, as independently as possible, and this needs to happen now. The Human Rights Act and the Equality Act are there to protect people like Bethany, and it was immensely important to us to help her and her family in this case." The joint committee on human rights is investigating the treatment of people with autism and learning disabilities in secure assessment and treatment units. Conservative peer David Trimble, who was in tears during Jeremy's evidence, asked: "what has it been like for you as a parent?" … Jeremy is also calling for an overhaul of the way young people like Bethany and their families are treated. He said that over two years Bethany's detention in hospital has cost the taxpayer £1.6million.[$2M US dollars] An independent review of the Mental Health Act published this week called for young people detained under the legislation to have more control over their care. Walsall Council declined to comment.