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 strategic board

We funded a secure care national adviser post based at Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice (CYCJ) at the University of Strathclyde until March 2019. They carried out an independent, analytical, strategic and practice-focused review of secure care in Scotland.

The key findings from their review were published in the report 'Secure care in Scotland: looking ahead', in October 2016, along with two other papers published in 2017: 'Secure care in Scotland: young people's voices' and 'Chief social work officers and secure care'.  

As a result of the review, we created Secure Care Strategic Board 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.

Due to the increasing synergies of the work of the Board and that of the Independent Care Review the Minister for Children and Young People agreed that the long term future of secure care should be considered by the Independent Care Review.

The Board's Pathways and Standards workstream has developed draft secure care standards for Scotland. To do that a significant programme of co-production work in partnership with all five secure centres, Who Cares? Scotland, CELCIS, CYCJ and care experienced young people and adults was brought together. We feel the voice of care experienced young people is at the heart of the standards.

The standards will fully align with national health and social care standards and we will hope they will be agreed in autumn 2019 and implemented over the next 12-18 months. A Secure Care Group jointly chaired by COSLA and the Scottish Government has been established to oversee the work.  

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 0131 244 0996 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: