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Secure care measures for young people who offend


Secure accommodation is a form of residential care for the very small number of children whose needs and risks, for a particular period in their lives, can only be managed in the controlled settings of secure care. Such children have been deemed to be a significant risk to themselves or others in the community.

Secure care provides intensive support and safe boundaries that enable these highly vulnerable children to re-engage and move forward positively in their communities.  It provides a nurturing environment that is able to address specific needs whilst providing care, including health and education where the learning follows the Curriculum for Excellence.

Secure care restricts the liberty of the children under the age of 18 placed in their care through the Children’s Hearings system or the Courts.


  • We are funding a secure care national adviser post based at Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice (CYCJ) at the University of Strathclyde, to carry out an independent, analytical, strategic and practice focused review of secure care in Scotland.
  • The key messages arising from this review were published in the report Secure Care in Scotland: Looking Ahead, in October 2016. 

  • As a result of this review, we have established a Secure Care Strategic Board to to lead the development of a strategic approach to responses to children and young people in and on the edges of secure care in Scotland.  The Board will report to Ministers by December 2018.



There are 84 secure care beds in Scotland provided by 5 dedicated units. The Secure Accommodation Network is the placement information service for secure accommodation in Scotland. The site provides information on the availability of secure beds supplied by all providers and the figures are updated daily.

Information on capacity and usage can be found in the Children's Social Work Statistics 2015-16.

The secure care contract is managed by Scotland Excel, on behalf of Scottish local authorities and the Scottish Government.  They can be contacted on 0141 618 4456. If you plan to place a child in secure care using the contract, the purchasing authority are required to complete an Individual Placement Agreement (IPA) form. Scotland Excel or the secure care providers can provide information on how to complete an IPA.

Scottish Ministers are responsible for children under the age of 16 and young people aged 16-18 on Compulsory Supervision Orders who are sentenced under solemn procedures and placed in secure care. The Criminal Procedures (Scotland) Act 1995 (sections 205 and 208) gives more information. If a Local Authority has a child or a young person due to attend court on a solemn matter they should contact Mary Amos (0131 244 0996) at the Scottish Government at the earliest opportunity, and well in advance of the court date to allow time to plan the placement should the young person receive a custodial sentence.

We continue to develop and support robust community alternatives to secure care, including intensive support and monitoring services (electronic monitoring combined with intensive social work support programmes).
Read the Intensive Support and Monitoring System guidance