Secure care

Secure accommodation is a form of residential care that restricts the freedom of children under the age of 18.

It is for the small number of children who may be a significant risk to themselves, or others in the community. Their needs and risks can only be managed in secure care's controlled settings.

Secure care aims to provide intensive support and safe boundaries to help these highly vulnerable children re-engage and move forward positively in their communities.

Secure Care Pathway and Standards, Scotland

The Secure Care Pathway and Standards, Scotland were launched on the 5th October 2020. 

These new national standards for secure care for first time set out what support children should expect from professionals when in the community or secure care.
The Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland will ensure support is provided before, during and after care and that the rights of children and young people, facing extreme vulnerabilities and risks in their lives, are respected.
When fully implemented, the new standards will deliver a consistent, unified approach to caring for this vulnerable group in all council areas.   

Children and young people in care and with experience of care were involved in developing the standards along with secure care staff, local government and the Children and Young People‚Äôs Centre for Justice (CYCJ). 

The standards reinforce Scottish Governments commitment to Getting it Right for Every Child policy, supporting the incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the important asks of the Independent Care Review, Promise published earlier this year. It is vital our young people feel safe, loved and cared for in a compassionate nurturing environment. These standards will help deliver that. 


The Secure Care Standards  

The standards are supported by the Secure Care Standards website which was fully co-designed using materials supplied by STARR, young people and staff in secure care.  

The website provides information on why these Standards matter to children and young people, includes links to guidance, legislation, the Health and Social Care Standards and How Good is Our School?

Secure care provision in Scotland

There are 84 secure care beds in Scotland provided by five dedicated units. The Secure Accommodation Network is updated daily and provides information on the occupancy and the number of available beds.

The latest information on capacity and usage can be found in the children and social work statistics 2017-2018, published in March 2019.

Placing a child in secure care

The secure care contract is managed by Scotland Excel, on behalf of Scottish local authorities and the Scottish Government. You can contact the contract manger on 0141 618 4456.

If you plan to place a child in secure care using the contract, the purchasing authority must complete an Individual Placement Agreement (IPA) form. Scotland Excel or the secure care providers can provide information on how to complete an IPA.

Court appearances and sentencing

Scottish Ministers are responsible for:

  • children under the age of 16, and young people aged 16 to 18, who are on Compulsory Supervision Orders, sentenced under solemn procedures (the most serious criminal cases) and placed in secure care
  • all children under 18 who are convicted of murder

If a local authority has a child or a young person due to attend court on a solemn matter, they should contact the Scottish Government care and protection team on childplacementmanager@gov.scot0131 244 0996, or 07554332310 at the earliest opportunity, and well in advance of the court date.

This allows time to plan the placement if the young person receives a custodial sentence.

We have produced the following guidance for local authorities: