A JUDGE has warned of a ‘terrible national shortage’ of places in secure units for dangerous youngsters after Lancashire County Council was unable to find one for a teenager with a history of violence.

Judge Sarah Singleton had to order his placement in a children’s home with three extra staff seconded to look after him.

She said there was a ‘gross shortage of resource’ creating a ‘lack of protection for the public’.

Her comments came in a written analysis of a case involving a 15-year-old boy who had a ‘terrifying’ history of violence, following a private family court hearing.

She said it was plain the teenager, with a ‘terrifying history of behaving both violently and in an assaultive sexual manner to women’, ought to be in secure conditions while experts addressed the ‘issues which beset him’.

Judge Singleton said the youngster, with convictions for violence and indecent assault, should have been placed in secure accommodation after release from a detention and training order.

She revealed Lancashire County Council had been unable to find him a secure unit and he had to be placed in a children’s home.

Judge Singleton said its staff had made ‘exhaustive efforts’ to find him secure accommodation including discussions with the Department for Education.

The county had now seconded three extra staff to the children’s home where the teenager had been placed to ‘look after’ him.

In her analysis, Judge Singleton said: “The facts amount to a terrible national shortage of secure placements for children and young people who are a danger to themselves and others.”

The youngster was not identified by the judge sitting at Lancaster Family Court.

A spokesperson for LCC said: "We understand the judge's concerns about this national issue.  We are pleased to have been invited to a meeting with the Department for Education to discuss how this matter might be tackled in the future."