Alternatives to secure care and custody: guidance

Guidance for local authorities, community planning partnerships and service providers on developing a whole system approach.

Appendix 3 Pilots


Aberdeen City has developed a partnership approach to provide alternatives to secure accommodation. Voluntary sector agencies have agreed to provide specific components of an intensive support service in collaboration with local authority partners that will be coordinated through child's planning meetings. These meetings will be chaired by the appropriate level of staff depending on the level of risk that the child or young person presents.

At the meeting all agencies will be represented and put together the single plan that can be presented to panel members should a movement restriction condition ( MRC) be required. Alternatively, if an MRC is not deemed necessary, an intensive support service can still be provided to prevent the level of risk escalating.

The service has been designed on the basis of evidence gathered across Scotland over the past few years on both ISMS and the wider Youth Justice context.

Dumfries and Galloway

Intensive Fostering Support in Dumfries and Galloway provides community-based alternative to non local authority residential placements for young people 12-18 years who present with challenging behaviour and are at risk.

The objectives of Intensive Fostering Support are:

  • provide family placements with highly skilled Foster Carers;
  • as a component of intensive support provide a comprehensive support service for Intensive Foster Carers that includes ongoing professional supervision and training;
  • promote multi-agency and professional care planning and partnership working in the best interests of young people receiving the service;
  • support and enable young people to experience family living;
  • encourage young peoples' participation in decision making;
  • support appropriate contact between young people and their birth families and communities.

It is envisaged that young people referred for Intensive Fostering Support will be in the 12 - 18 year age range and be identified as presenting challenging behaviour that places them at risk of residential care, continued residential care or in some instances secure care.

East Ayrshire

The East Ayrshire 'Turning the Corner' Project has been created as an Alternatives to Secure Care & Remand service.

Aim of the Project

  • to reduce the incidence of admission to secure care and remand for young people aged 17 and under within East Ayrshire

Objectives of the Project

  • to enhance the provision of highly intensive support for young people that reduces the likelihood of their being admitted to secure care or remand;
  • to provide highly intensive support that enables young people to be discharged earlier from secure care or other forms of provision (for example residential school);
  • to develop and implement an Intensive Support & Monitoring Service for East Ayrshire.
  • to fulfil the core aim and all of the above objectives, to develop intensive support services that offer 7 day, extended hours, and crisis response provision

North Ayrshire

North Ayrshire are addressing their alternatives to secure care and custody by developing their current services of: court notes at point of a young person's appearance, clear outline of nature of alternatives to remand, representation in the court, presentations to Procurator Fiscal and Faculty of Advocates, cumulating in reduced numbers in the secure estate.

To do this, they have done the following:

  • recruitment of 1 Qualified Social Worker to bridge interfaces between Criminal Justice and Youth Justice and the use of mentors/session staff for added support.
  • events for Social Services Staff and multi-agency partners to include wider stakeholders e.g. Sheriffs/Advocates to showcase what works, how we can do this and highlight best and less effective practice in terms of young people.
  • identify staff within Children and Families and Criminal Justice who would have weighted youth justice case loads and support the delivery of this with a specialised targeted training agenda.
  • spot Purchase specialist placement/respite as an alternative to remand.

South Ayrshire

South Ayrshire Council's pilot included increasing the range and type of support available to young people who may become involved in the court system or fit secure criteria due to their risky behaviour. The aim of the pilot was to reduce the number of young people subject to secure care or remand when appearing through the adult Court system, or Children's Hearings System.

South Ayrshire Councils aimed to:

  • offer an additional crisis response for young people who are offending;
  • offer intensive support monitoring service;
  • increase the number of young people assessed of ISMS;
  • reduce the number of requests for secure from the Children Hearing System;
  • ensure the number young people accessing secure remain low;
  • develop relationship with the courts and be able to offer a credible community based support;
  • have a positive impact on those particular young people at risk of being remanded in custody or secure care by offering and directly engaging them in community-based support options.

To do this, they appointed 2 additional staff members dedicated to providing support directly to young people to address their risky behaviour and offending.

  • they will collate and present known background information regarding existing and available supports and intervention information and presented to Court/solicitors/ PFs at point of court appearance for the young person;
  • theses posts will have the ability to work directly and immediately engage, support and coordinate the community. This will be based on a support plan, in conjunction with key others, by providing direct input and intervention in the short to medium term; ensuring that all available support are engaged and coordinated during the period of engagement;
  • the post will assess for ISM and work intensively with the young person and the family across this period;
  • the workers will support young people in crisis to reduce the likelihood of young people engaging in risky behaviour by arranging a 7 day a week support package of care where appropriate;

For those young people who cannot remain in the community: South Ayrshire :

  • "spot-purchase" emergency crisis care placement with specialist provider to provide emergency accommodation and care, supervised up to 24/7 basis, within or out with the local community, to avert the need for remand/secure provision.
  • provide 24 hour support for the ISMS.
  • the use of sessional staff to provide additional staff hours to enable bespoke support and care for young people, targeting evening and weekend contact, to ensure adequate levels of contact, support and supervision.


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