Sex offender at risk capable of making own care decisions – judge

A convicted sex offender who ‘presents a risk’ has the mental capacity to make decisions about his care and support, a judge has ruled after a hearing in a specialist court.

Mrs Justice Judd was told the man, in his 20s and with ‘complex needs’, had been detained under the Mental Health Act and placed in a hospital unit in 2016.

The judge heard that in 2017 he was ‘determined’ not to have the mental capacity to consent to his detention and treatment – under the Mental Capacity Act.

He was then transferred to a specialized unit where staff worked with “young people with problematic sexual behavior”.

The judge said the man posed a “risk” to children.

But she decided that he no longer needed to be the subject of an “authorization of deprivation of liberty” and declared that “any new offense” is “criminal justice”.

The judge said her ruling meant the man would no longer be “forced to accept” a treatment package offered by specialists.

Mrs Justice Judd set out her findings in a decision posted online after reviewing evidence at a public hearing in the Court of Protection, where judges make rulings on people who may not have the mental capacity to take decisions on their own, in London.

The judge, who is based at the Royal Courts of Justice in London and also oversees hearings in the High Court’s Family Division, ruled that neither the man nor any NHS council or trust involved in his care , cannot be identified in the media. case reports.

She gave no indication of where he lives.

Lawyers representing the man had asked the judge for a ruling and argued he had “capacity”.

An NHS council and trust argued he had not – and were ‘concerned’.

In 2017, the man admitted “two offenses of sexual assault on a girl under the age of 13” and received a 26-month youth rehabilitation order, Judge Judd heard.

He had been on the sex offender registry for five years and was “prohibited from having contact with children under the age of 16 except inadvertently and not reasonably avoidable in the course of daily life”, he told her. one says.

Inside the main hall of the Royal Courts of Justice in London. A convicted sex offender has the mental capacity to make decisions about his care and support, a judge has ruled (Aaron Chown/PA)

She gave no indication of where he lives.

Lawyers representing the man had asked the judge for a ruling and argued he had “capacity”.

An NHS council and trust argued he had not – and were ‘concerned’.

In 2017, the man admitted “two offenses of sexual assault on a girl under the age of 13” and received a 26-month youth rehabilitation order, Judge Judd heard.

He had been on the sex offender registry for five years and was “prohibited from having contact with children under the age of 16 except inadvertently and not reasonably avoidable in the course of daily life”, he told her. one says.

“As of June 2021, he was still considered a high risk to children,” the judge said. “For children, he poses a risk of sexual assault.”

Mrs Justice Judd heard testimony from consultant psychiatrist Dr Christopher Ince – who had been ‘jointly’ commissioned to prepare a report on the man by lawyers from both sides.

Dr Ince had examined whether the man had the mental capacity to “conduct the procedure and make decisions about his residence, care, contacts, sexual relationships and access to social media”.

He had concluded that the man “had the capacity in relation to all the areas stated”, specified the judge.

The board and NHS trust involved had ‘acknowledged’ that he had the mental capacity to ‘carry out these procedures, contacts, sexual relations and social media’.

Mrs Justice Judd said the issue she had to decide was whether he had the mental capacity to consent to her care and support arrangements.

“I have come to the conclusion, on a balance of probabilities, that he has the capacity to make decisions about his care and support,” Judge Judd said.

“I completely understand why the (NHS council and trust) are so concerned, as there is a high risk that (the man) will re-offend if given the chance.

“If he is allowed to make decisions for himself he could go out on his own and in doing so he could put himself and others at risk by acting impulsively and committing sexual assault.

“Those responsible for his care are no doubt very worried about the effect on him (and of course others too) if he did.

“Any manager would be concerned about that, as I am.”

But, she said, “any new offense” was a “criminal justice system matter.”

She added: “The truth is that most sex offenders and adults at risk have a capacity and, like (the man) should not be managed by deprivation of liberty under the provisions of the law on mental capacity.”

Mrs Justice Judd said the man would continue to be offered the same care package he had now – and would be ‘strongly encouraged’ to continue to be ‘accompanied by at least one carer’ whenever he would go out.

She added: “What this decision changes is that he will no longer be forced to accept what is offered to him, but I sincerely hope he does.”

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