Autistic Man Separated From His Abusive Mother

Ruling: Judge Martin Cardinal ruled that a 25-year-old autistic man must be separated from his mother and forced to live in care

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The Birmingham Crown Court handed down a decision holding that “an autistic man can no longer live at home with his abusive mother and must be forced to live in council care” despite the fact that he wanted to continue living with his mother. (Daily Mail) The 25-year-old man, referred to only as WMA, was verbally and mentally abused, while rarely being allowed outside of the house. (Daily Mail) Judge Martin Cardinal “gave permission for a local authority to stop the man from leaving the home if they think he might run away, after a deprivation of liberty safeguard application.” (Daily Mail) “The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards are part of the Mental Capacity Act of 2005.” ( The safeguards “provide a legal framework to ensure people are deprived of their liberty only when there is no other way to care for them or safely provide treatment.” (Data.Gov.UK)

The Court stated that both the mother and son had to be removed from their house by the local authorities due to the condition of their home, demonstrating the mother’s lack of ability to properly care for her son. (Daily Mail)

In addition to their poor living conditions, care workers frequently worried about the lack of food present in the house and that WMA’s mother refused to help her son when in need. (Daily Mail) This is not the first time the mother’s lack of care has been questioned as she was arrested in 2011 for neglect although no charges were filed against her. (Daily Mail)

The terms of the separation included that “the pair must only contact each other by telephone for the first two weeks of separation and supervised visits would be allowed twice a week for up to two hours after that…[further] After a month, contact between [the two} will only be monitored and not actively supervised.” (Daily Mail)

This case is only one of the examples where deprivation of liberty safeguards have been applied in the UK, which has risen by 66% according to recent Health and Social Care Information figures. (Daily Mail).


This story raises a number of questions, please consider the following:

(1)  Do you think this was a proper scenario to apply the deprivation of liberty safeguards?

(2)  As mentioned above, the safeguards “provide a legal framework to ensure people are deprived of their liberty only when there is no other way to care for them or safely provide treatment.” With that being said, do you believe there are other ways to care for WMA without resorting to a deprivation of liberty safeguard?


One comment

  1. Although I believe wholeheartedly that we need to protect those whom cannot protect themselves, I believe that in no way should these safeguards be an automatic; in fact, they should truly be a last resort.

    I do not believe, however, that anyone, regardless of mental capacity, should ever be abused. It is even sadder when a more vulnerable population is being prayed upon. In this case, the son has been continuously abused. This is evidenced by the article when is states that he was verbally and mentally abused by his mother, the house was in deplorable conditions (so bad that both the mother and son had to be removed), there was hardly any food in the house, and the mother had been arrested in 2011 for neglect.

    It is obvious that for one reason or another, the mother lacked the ability to care for her son who needs extra attention due to his disabilities. It did not state whether she, herself, is handicapped and that is the reason she is unable to care for him. But regardless, based on these facts, I feel that it was appropriate for the son to be taken into council care and for them to impose the safeguards.

    If the mother cannot take care of him, and he cannot take care of himself, who will? Someone else has to keep him safe. If the son has a tendency to run away and there is a risk of him getting hurt, then these safeguards should be invoked; this is the exact reason for having the safeguards.

    Although I believe the court got it right in this case, the imposition of safeguards should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The facts and overall circumstances of case should be analyzed to determine whether the safeguards should be used. The use of safeguards should in no way be the norm, but the exception and should be determined on an individual basis.

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