Secure Care Group minutes: February 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 2 February 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Tom McNamara, SG (chair)
  • Jenny Ward, SG (minutes)
  • Liz Murdoch, SG
  • Fiona McFarlane, The Promise
  • Alison Gough, Good Shepherd Centre
  • Ben Farrugia, Social Work Scotland
  • Beth-Anne Logan, STARR
  • Colin Convery, Police Scotland
  • Debbie Nolan, CYCJ
  • Eddie Follan, COSLA
  • Mary Geaney, Rossie Young People’s Trust 
  • Peter Orr, Glasgow City, HSCP 
  • Rebecca Green, Scotland Excel
  • Andrew Sloan, Care Inspectorate
  • Willie McFadyen, Kibble Safe Centre
  • Janine McCullough, Education Scotland
  • Helen Happer, Care Inspectorate
  • Liam Slaven, STARR
  • Gill Robinson, Scottish Prison Service


  • Rod Finan, SG OCSWA
  • David Cotterell, SG
  • Sinclair Soutar, Kibble Safe Centre
  • Kevin Miller/Karen Ralston, St Marys 

Items and actions

Tom McNamara welcomed attendees to the group, which last met in October 2020. Group attendees introduced themselves.

Revisit the terms of reference - refocus of the group 

The primary focus of the Group was intended to be around the development of secure care national pathway and standards, and their implementation. The Group agreed to retain the responsibility around implementation, widening this to ensure that this focuses on integration of the standards. The Group were reminded of the links to the Youth Justice Improvement Board and the coming action plan, the Children’s Hearings Improvement Partnership and the Care Review.

The Group discussed current membership. It was suggested that a link should be made to the COVID-19 children’s leadership group, co-chaired by SOLACE and the SG Director for Children and Families Directorate. Member suggestions included SCRA, health/CAMHS reps, ADES (specifically Jennifer King), the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland and third sector organisations which provide support to children before and after secure care.

The membership should be linked directly to the aims of the group, and to how they might develop. There needs to be clarity around the potential role and remit, status and governance of the group, including as a forum for sharing information and discussing issues as they evolve and develop. The role of research and links with other groups need to be established.

Members considered the importance of taking into account the work and recommendations of The Promise, but also the need to acknowledge other activity taking place. For example the work around 16/17 year olds, the justice committee evidence review and the expert review of mental health provision at Polmont. It was felt that the involvement of other decision-makers, outside of Chief Social Work Officers, was needed.

It was suggested that the Group should link with the Additional Support Needs Implementation Group due to the fact that children and young people in secure care have additional support needs unless they have been assessed as not having ASNs. The findings of the Morgan Review has pointed to a need for greater support for young people transitioning out of secure care.

Fi Macfarlane explained that the Promise team have been looking at governance structures across the whole of children’s policy. It would be important for the Secure Care group to be nimble and able to shift its ToR in relation to the development of other groups and activity elsewhere. There is a concern that groups can become too niche, only dealing with one aspect of children’s policy without making the necessary links. There was a discussion about the necessity of the group and agreement that the ToR should allow for some flexibility to respond to emerging issues, but that there needs to be a narrow remit in order to actually deliver on actions.

The group should also consider the role of academia and research from beyond Scotland such as Northern Ireland and other parts of the UK. It was suggested that all secure care centres should be represented. Additional comments were made about the reporting/feedback mechanism for the group and how, in addition to publishing the meeting minutes, there may be potential to do more, for example through utilising the website.

Action: Scottish Government to consider membership of the group and review the terms of reference, circulating to members in February for comments before the next meeting.

Secure care pathway and standards

Debbie Nolan provided an update on the Secure Care Pathways and Standards. 

The Standards were launched on 5 October on the Scottish Government website. The launch included a targeted send out by SG and CYCJ, the publication of an information sheet and a series of blogs. As well as the strategic leads event on 5 October, there were individual launches for the secure care centres, which took place on 8 October, and which were captured on social media.

A third event aimed at stakeholders and implementation/operational leads will take place at the end of February. This will take place virtually, with inputs from the Minister, STARR, the Care Inspectorate, the Promise and possibly SWS. The event will look at potential support and barriers to the Standards. CYCJ are keen for input from group members about who to invite to the event (for example, social work, health, SPS, SCRA, education), who should provide inputs how the event should be structured.

Debbie requested feedback from the group on who to invite to the event by 5 February. Gill confirmed that SPS would be keen to participate, and Janine suggested inviting Education Inclusion Leads, Police Scotland also agreed to disseminate to colleagues.

Debbie provided an update on the website which was launched at the same time as the Standards, featuring quotes, pictures and voiceovers from young people. There has been a great reaction to the website, with 1500 people viewing it in the first two months. Materials have also been developed alongside the Standards, and colleagues will keep adding to the website as feedback is received.

Support around implementation of the standards has focused on forums and workshops. Multi-agency workshops have also been developed to help build awareness of the Standards. Colleagues will keep reaching out to agencies and local authorities. Members were invited to consider how they could assist with implementation. The Champions group has helped to co-ordinate implementation of the Standards, and has been looking at the challenges and opportunities arising from implementation. The group has expanded and 4 additional local authorities have joined.

Gaps have been identified around Chief Social Work Officers, safe guarders, the Children’s Hearings System, children’s rights and health. Debbie welcomed suggestions about how to support these areas.

It was noted that we must think about how we approach communication and engagement in a way that is thoughtful and appropriately targeted, and consider what is likely to be most fruitful for audiences over the next year. CYCJ have carried out mapping around how the standards link to the broader agenda of the Promise, expert review etc. This mapping exercise has been sent to the Children’s Commissioner and CYCJ colleagues for comment and will be shared more widely with this group – it will not be published due to its size. It was discussed that some of the standards cannot be achieved within the current capacity of the workforce and that this has to be surfaced through the work of the group. Awareness raising is an essential part of implementation but in itself not enough.

Evaluation and monitoring – Phase 1 of the evaluation and monitoring will focus on self-evaluation, learning and improvement. Discussions are taking place around how the Standards are working, what the barriers are, and how to target support in addressing these.

It was noted that the group needs to consider how to take forward this work in an ethical way which is right for everyone. It was agreed that this would be discussed at a future meeting. It was also observed that this work is a shared responsibility and members must make sure that responsibilities are appropriately attributed to individuals/organisations and are sustainable and sensible.

Governance structures around this work must add value rather than creating extra hurdles, they must be supportive of change and not demand a lot of energy in servicing them.

Action: All members to provide Debbie with a list of names of those to be invited to the end of February event together with other views on implementation of the standards – by 5 February.

The Promise 

Fi McFarlane presented to the group on the work of the Promise.

The Promise Team have been talking to various groups and forums over the summer, and a governance mapping exercise has been commissioned in order to understand what groups are active. Agreed that there is a need for bringing people together with the same responsibilities over a narrow setting. It was noted that we need to be relational in how we function, and must bear trauma principles in mind in how we as a group engage with young people in secure care, care experienced people and the workforce.

The Promise Oversight Board recently recruited and its membership is soon to be published.

With regard to the Promise’s recommendations for secure care, there needs to be more at-home services for children, and children must not have their liberty restricted. YOIs are not appropriate for 16/17 year olds. We also need to consider transitions and relationships. A recent engagement exercise was undertaken looking at what agencies are doing, and what the Promise can do to support this, colleagues are hoping to publish the results of this in March 2021. The Promise Team is keen to continue engaging. The first meeting of the Oversight Board took place last week, and further events are planned for the first year anniversary of the Promise.

Disclosure guidance and restorative justice in educational settings

Janine McCullough shared some of the work she has been involved in as a Corporate Parent, and discussed how this work may interface with that of the Secure Care Group. Educational support is vital in preventing children and young people from entering secure care. In mainstream secondary schools there is a need for guidance teachers and those who work closely with young people to understand the secure/youth justice system. Education Scotland are currently working with Disclosure Scotland around upskilling practitioners, taking information into schools and speaking to young people about the implications of offences, looking to demystify the system for professionals and young people. They are currently working on a hub page for practitioners which will explain the Disclosure - what type of information needs to be disclosed, how long information remains on record etc. 

Janine is also considering the importance of relationships in school and school being a protective environment for young people. There is a need for a system based around relationships which is trauma-informed. Education Scotland colleagues are currently producing a document around relationships and behaviour. There are concerns that policies in schools are rebadged as behaviour/discipline policies, rather than relationships/restorative policies, and that the language used by teachers and school staff needs to change. Education Scotland are looking at how to develop commonality of language across the school system, including nursery and primary schools. They are also looking at supporting a basic level of knowledge and training across schools, raising awareness of the youth justice system, including the Children’s Hearings System, and enabling practitioners to help young people stay in school.

AOB and date of the next meeting

It was proposed that the next meeting take place in late April/early May, followed by a subsequent meeting before the summer holidays (June/July). It was agreed that these meetings then move to quarterly but remain ready to change frequency if necessary.

Scottish Government

February 2021

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