A COUNCIL has agreed to pay £7,500 damages to an 11-year-old girl after delaying decisions about her future.

Thurrock Council is the latest in a number of local authorities criticised by family court judges for not acting quickly enough when children are placed into foster care.

Detail of the case emerged in a judge's ruling following a family court hearing in Chelmsford.

Judge Catriona Murfitt said the girl had been taken into care in late 2014 after telling a teacher that she was "scared to return home".

She said the girl's mother had agreed to the youngster going into care.

But she said a judge had not been asked to make decisions about the girl's long-term future until late 2015.

She said the girl has stayed in foster care for 13 months and the council had taken "no steps" to seek "parental responsibility".

Council bosses had agreed to pay £7,500 damages after negotiations with lawyers representing the girl, said the judge.

Judge Murfitt said she was satisfied that the girl's human right to respect for family life had been infringed.

She said two judges had raised similar concerns about other councils in 2015 after family court hearings.

A spokeswoman for Thurrock Council said the council "accepted" that care proceedings should have started sooner.

She said: "The council is pleased Her Honour accepted and implemented the council’s application for a care order to continue to promote BB’s welfare and accepts that care proceedings should have been started sooner.

"The council has since reviewed its use of section 20 to ensure this is being used appropriately so proceedings are being started when required.

"The council thanks Her Honour for her judgement and for outlining her concerns."