Court releases 15-year-old girl from ‘inhumane’ secure psychiatric unit

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A 15-year-old girl has been released from a secure unit for problem adolescents by the Arnhem-Leeuwarden court of appeal because of the ‘ínhumane situation’ in which she was living.

The court said the situation was inhumane because the girl was only given medication and had not received any serious treatment during the two years she had been there.

The girl told the court she spent 22 hours a day in her room, did not participate in any activities and only saw other teenagers sporadically.

The court press officer said after the verdict that the decision was ‘exceptional’ because placement in a secure unit is very rarely subject to an appeal.

‘This girl has problems and she deserves to be treated. But the court has taken into account that despite a two-year stay, nothing has been done to make this happen,’ he said.

The girl was placed in the unit in 2020 after developing behavioural  and drink and drug problems. In November last year the order for the girl to remain in the secure unit was extended, despite her parents opposition, but with the proviso that a solution to her situation had to be found ‘urgently’.

This decision has now been overturned following the appeal. The institution has been given two weeks to come up with suitable place where she can be treated.


Institutionalised care for teenagers has been in the spotlight for the past few months. In January, research by foundation Het Vergeten Kind (the forgotten child) showed that many youngsters leave institutions with serious traumas.

In addition, over 133,000 people have signed a petition calling for the institutions to be reformed or closed down.

And earlier this month, youth social workers took part in a demonstration calling on the government to overturn planned spending cuts, to reduce the pressure of work and tackle mounting waiting lists.

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