Custody of convicted children and young people: practice guidance

The procedures to be followed regarding children sentenced under section 205(2) or section 208 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995.

Detention Arrangements: Section 208

Initial Planning

29. Once the sentence has been passed, and the child is detained in the place directed by the Scottish Ministers, the next stage is a thorough assessment of the child by secure care staff, in consultation with other professionals. This will cover:

  • proposals for the child's management at the placement,
  • a review of the existing Child's Plan,
  • preparation of a throughcare plan for the child (to be incorporated into the Child's Plan), and
  • if necessary, a reassessment of the appropriateness of the placement.

30. The Head of the Secure Unit in which the child is placed should take responsibility for co-ordinating this assessment, liaising with the CYP Placement Manager and the child's lead professional/allocated social worker.

31. The weight to be attached to each aspect of the assessment will vary with the length of the sentence. For a child sentenced to 12 months or less, the throughcare plan is likely to be the main concern. For a child sentenced to be detained for several years or without limit of time, the child's wellbeing and proposals for the child's management at the placement will be the key issues.

Child's Plan while in Custody

32. Once the placement is confirmed by Scottish Ministers, and the Individual Placement Agreement (IPA) has been completed, the unit should prepare proposals for managing the sentence. This should take account of all relevant factors, including nature of offence, home background and the child's wellbeing needs.

33. The identified child's plan should follow Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) principles and SHANARRI indicators, including an assessment of risk. This should include measures for, education, recreation, to tackle offending, behaviour maintenance of family links and ultimately planning the child's gradual reintegration to the community.

34. For a child sentenced to be detained for several years the plan should also include proposals to prepare for the child's transfer to a YOI.

Placement Review Meeting

35. The CYP Placement Manager, in consultation with the unit where the child is detained, will convene this meeting, usually within 4 weeks after the date of the sentence.

36. The main purpose of the placement review meeting is to consider the appropriateness of the placement. The CYP Placement Manager will also explain the implications of a section 208 sentence and in particular the statutory provisions governing release.

37. The following written reports should be forwarded to the CYP Placement Manager in advance of the meeting:

  • the sentence programme proposals prepared by the establishment's managers; and
  • a report from the home social worker on the proposed throughcare plan for the child (the specificity will depend on the likely length of time in custody).

38. In order to inform the placement review meeting, the CYP Placement Manager may commission additional reports.

39. The CYP Placement Manager will set the date for the review and invite the authors of any reports to attend. The management of the establishment where the child has been placed will invite the child and his or her parents/guardians to the meeting (unless their presence is judged to be against the child's best interests). The CYP Placement Manager will attend but will seek advice on professional issues from the Office of the Chief Social Work Adviser as appropriate. Staff at the secure unit would normally lead the meeting, but the child's social worker should take a prominent role. Where release is likely in the relatively near future the main focus of the meeting will be preparation for release.

40. Following the meeting, the CYP Placement Manager will confirm the continuation of the placement. In the event that it is decided that another placement would be in the child's best interests, the host unit must send copies of all reports to the receiving unit.

Review Meetings

41. Review meetings normally take place quarterly.

42. The CYP Placement manager will set dates for reviews and the management of the secure unit where the child is located will convene the meetings. The purpose being to review progress and to plan ahead. Such meetings are important landmarks for children in detention, since they provide encouragement and a focus for objective setting and monitoring. When a child is moved to a YOI, the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) will take over responsibility for arranging reviews.

43. Where the period in custody is very short, it may be sufficient to hold one review meeting prior to release to ensure that the throughcare arrangements are in place.

44. For sentences of 12 months or more, resulting a period of at least 6 months in custody, review meetings should be convened every 3 months or more frequently if the circumstances require it.

45. The CYP Placement Manager must attend all review meetings. The child's social worker must also attend, as well as professional consultants (as appropriate). The child should be supported by a key worker at the unit. Parents/guardians should also be invited unless this is not in the child's best interests.

46. Progress reports on the child, commissioned by the secure unit, should be sought from all with immediate responsibility for the child's care. Copies of the reports should be sent to the CYP Placement Manager in advance of the meeting. A representative from SPS should be invited where there is a likelihood of a transfer to a YOI in the near future, on account of the child's age.

47. The child's lead Social Worker must maintain regular contact with the child including visits, telephone calls and correspondence, to assist reviews and the implementation of the sentence programme.

Sentence Management - Mobility

48. Mobility may be considered when a child has reached the final third of a custodial sentence. This is a valuable tool which allows an individual to begin the reintegration process back into the community by being tested on a gradual and planned basis. Mobility is discussed at review meetings and is subject to a current risk assessment being carried out. Approval depends on factors such as level of engagement and behaviour displayed throughout the sentence.

49. In cases where a child is detained without limit of time [or for life], [or under an Order for Lifelong Restriction] they would not normally be considered for mobility within the punishment part of their sentence.

50. In the initial stages of a section 208 sentence, the mobility programme will usually commence with activities within the establishment grounds. This will normally progress to supervised outings outwith the establishment. Thereafter, and dependent on satisfactory progress, home or local leave becomes an important part of the programme; a progressively developing pattern of day leave, overnight leave and weekend leave would be quite usual. The programme will be tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of the child and will outline support systems and include contingency measures, should any problems arise.

51. Where activities outside the establishment or activities which may attract media attention are proposed, specific approval by Scottish Ministers is required. Proposals for such activities should be discussed at review meetings.

52. All mobility plans must be agreed by the CYP Placement Manager who must provide written consent.

53. The secure unit's manager will notify the local police when a child is first granted unescorted leave. The police will also be advised that Scottish Ministers have approved the leave. This, importantly, will ensure that the police are aware that the child has not absconded.




Back to top