Secure Care Group minutes: March 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the Secure Care Group on 30 March 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Tom McNamara, SG Youth Justice and Children’s Hearings (Chair)
  • Laura Caven, COSLA
  • Jillian Gibson, COSLA
  • Aileen Blower SG CAMHS Adviser
  • Janine McCullough, Education Scotland
  • Rod Finan, SG Office of the Chief Social Work Advisor
  • Alison Gough, Good Shepherd Centre
  • Daniel Clark, Police Scotland
  • Fi McFarlane, Promise Scotland
  • Gary Peebles, Kibble Safe Centre
  • Jo Derrick, STAF
  • Chris Wright, Care Inspectorate
  • Kellie McNeill, Care Inspectorate
  • Kevin Miller, St Mary’s Kenmure
  • James Mackenzie, Scotland Excel
  • Lily Humphries, CHS
  • Mary Geaney, Rossie Young People’s Trust
  • Gill Robinson, SPS
  • Ruby Whitelaw, CYCJ
  • Hannah Graham, SG Improving Lives for People with Care Experience
  • Alison Melville, SG Youth Justice
  • Karen Strain, SG Youth Justice


  • Beth-Anne Logan, STARR
  • Jane Donaldson, Police Scotland
  • Helen Smith, NSAIS
  • Andy Sloan, Care Inspectorate
  • Sinclair Soutar, Kibble
  • Melissa Hunt, SCRA
  • Maria Galli, CYPCS
  • Liz Murdoch, SG Youth Justice

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

Tom welcomed all to the meeting and invited introductions.

Note of previous meeting

Tom gave an update on the action points from the meeting held on 8 December 2021.

Action: Liz to speak to SG Looked after Children colleagues to pick up on the health issues around DoLs orders with Helen.

Progress: complete - Liz advised Hannah Graham of the health concerns raised by Helen. These are known to Looked After Children colleagues as they have previously been raised by Geraldine Queen, the Child Health Commissioner at NHS Lanarkshire. Hannah and Liz met with Geraldine last year to discuss the DoL placements and impact on health.

Action: members to send case studies (capturing work they done to implement the standards) to Ruby Whitelaw by 17 January 2022.

Progress: ongoing – 3 case studies have been received and published on the standards website - Ruby is also keen to include examples from education, health, local authorities and police.

Action: Beth-Anne to send a letter to Laura to circulate to SOLACE to raise awareness of STARR. All members to signpost the STARR group to young people with experience of secure care who may have an interest.

Progress: to be carried over.

Action: FCAHMS Pathway - Members to let Aileen/Jackie know if interested in this work and/or joining reference group to develop standards and principles.

Progress: ongoing – Aileen confirmed that they are looking to start pathway development imminently.

Action: CYPCS investigation follow up - SG Youth Justice/COSLA to organise a follow-up meeting to discuss recommendation of the report. Debbie to discuss legislative requirement arising from recommendations as part of her new role within the SG Care and Justice Bill team.

Progress: c- a meeting took place on 21 December to discuss the report’s recommendations and CYPCS’ concerns and the forthcoming Care and Justice Bill consultation.

Action: Secure Care Centres to provide Nick Hobbs with a point of contact to start planning for CYPCS visits.

Progress: complete – although visits have been delayed due to covid restrictions.

The group were content to agree the note which will be published on the SG website.


Scottish Government

Care and justice bill

Tom gave an overview of the Children’s Care and Justice Bill consultation which runs for 12 weeks from 30 March -22 June 2022.

He explained that the policy proposals represented an amalgam of i) specific recommendations and considerations drawn from various reports around the diversion and decarceration agendas alongside ii) wider exploratory issues, including how we might maintain and extend information and support for victims. The consultation outlines proposals for how we might make change and seeks views where the pathway or preferred options are less clear.

Tom outlined some of the consultation areas with particular relevance fore secure care:

  • increasing the maximum age of referral to the Principal Reporter to enable all under 18s to benefit from the children’s hearings system (this has already been consulted on)
  • strengthening the presumptions that children (all under 18s) will be kept out of the criminal justice system, instead utilising an enhanced children’s hearings system where necessary
  • ending the practice of children being accommodated in YOI, with alternatives including secure care used instead. Secure care being ‘last resort’ instead of YOI
  • inviting views on a statutory prohibition on YOI placement for under 18s
  • considering improved information and support to victims – including more case-specific information on restrictive measures, extending preventative conditions in compulsory supervision orders, and improved rights to ongoing support and information to victims including single point of contact
  • exploring extensions to the children’s hearings system children who reach their 18th birthday but still need state support or supervision
  • ensuring children in the criminal justice system are treated in a way that is trauma-informed and accounts for their age and stage of development
  • considering amendments and extensions to the preservation of anonymity of under 18s subject to the criminal justice system into adulthood – applying public safety and interest of justice tests rather than ‘public interest’
  • reallocating responsibility for funding secure care-based remand placements and exploring requirements for secure transport arrangements
  • whether a national approach to considering the placement of children into secure is required
  • enabling sentenced children to remain in secure care for a period beyond their 18th birthday rather than transferring to YOI for short periods
  • cross-border placements should only occur in exceptional circumstances where the placement is in the best interests of an individual child, and introducing additional safeguards and regulation for children in such placements
  • inviting views on whether restraint reporting, notification, support and follow‑up needs to be placed on a statutory footing
  • inviting views on whether the age of criminal responsibility 3 year review period is the correct timeframe
  • repealing ‘named person’ information sharing and child plans provisions in previous statute

Some measures may not ultimately require primary legislation, or this Bill may not be the optimum vehicle to deliver them. The consultation document touches on areas that will be delivered mainly through practice and resourcing change. He stressed this is just one strand of a body of work being taken forward and legislation alone is not going allow Scotland to ‘Keep the Promise’. Shifts in structures, relationships and practice will really deliver it.

The group agreed the next meeting should be brought forward to allow a broader discussion around the Bill. It was agreed that a meeting on 1 June would assist organisations to finalise their responses.

The Bill is likely to be introduced to Parliament later this year, following consultation and an analysis of responses. It will be at least mid-2023 before it is passed and commenced. Implementation will be ordered in a way that ensures everyone is ready.

Promise implementation plan

Tom informed the group that the Scottish Government’s plan to implement specific strands of the Promise would be published that afternoon to coincide with a debate in Parliament.

The plan includes a vision and key principles which articulate Scotland’s approach to care and ‘Delivering a Good Childhood’. It sets out what the Scottish Government wants to achieve and the values that will guide our policy, resourcing, business planning and strategy decisions to deliver the progress needed.

A dedicated resource is being created within Government to take this work forward and we are keen that the Secure Care Group, appropriately adapted, plays its part in that.

Action point: Alison M to circulate the SG’s Promise Implementation Plan once published.

National funding

Agreement has been reached in principle that the Scottish Government will purchase one bed within each centre. The short term objectives of this funding are to ensure capacity for children living in Scotland and to provide some financial support to secure services while longer term changes are considered. Variations to the current contract are being considered by the Scottish Government’s contract lawyers and Scotland Excel and we hope to have this arrangement in place by the summer. Negotiations between the SG and COSLA on future funding models are ongoing.

The Covid-19 Children and Families Collective Leadership Group (CLG) report on under 18s in custody

In response to issues raised in HMIPS – Year of Childhood Pre-Inspection Survey 2021, the CLG agreed to establish a short-life group to urgently review the cases of under-18s currently in Young Offenders Institutions. The group’s report, which is now being considered by Ministers, was circulated to the group.

The CLG recognised that significant work is being undertaken across the system to engage stakeholders in progressing improvements. Gill outlined some of the key issues from data and evidence considered by the group, the type of changes being made within Polmont and joint working that is already happening between SPS and secure care centres. The sub-group made four recommendations for further consideration by the CLG:

  • undertake a Trauma Informed Review of the Young Persons Pathway to YOI
  • recognising the needs and rights of the young person and support their understanding of court processes to ensure meaningful participation
  • assess and review key policies through the lens of UNCRC and other human rights treaties
  • identify and remove legal impediments to alternatives to remand and take immediate action where possible to remove under-18s from custody


Future of secure care

The Children and Young People’s Board discussed a paper on short term funding arrangements in February and feedback was around the following issues:

  • the need to ensure health colleagues are fully involved in planning
  • the need for improved CAMHS support
  • concern around the mix of welfare and offending placements and the need for EQIA assessments
  • secure placements should feel like care, whatever the route in
  • whether the SG is engaging with the UK Government around the number of cross border placements

An update will be provided to the CYP Board on 8 April which will include the Care and Justice Bill consultation and the CLG paper on under 18s in YOI.

Local government’s annual report on the Promise will be published on Friday 8 April and will cover progress in the two years since the Promise was published. Whilst recognising there is a long way to go, it showcases work going on across the country to Keep the Promise. These case studies will also be featured in a dedicated page on COSLA’s website.

Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ)

Pathway and Standards

CYCJ are continuing to work with agencies to support implementation of the standards. They have provided workshops looking at individualised approaches within local authorities and carried out practice reviews to consider how the standards may have been applied to avoid the need for a secure care placement.

The Champions Group are planning a summer event to look at good practice examples and a report will be generated. Some examples have already been published on the website which is updated regularly and includes notes of the Champions Group meetings.

A new secure care practitioners forum has been set up and will meet for the first time on 31 March is open to new members.

Deprivation of Liberty Orders – consultation analysis

Hannah thanked all who had responded to the policy paper published in January setting out the Scottish Government’s intention to legislate to regulate placements involving Deprivation of Liberty (DOL) Orders.

Ministers are concerned about the increase of cross border placements which involve a deprivation of liberty order as these are often the most vulnerable children with complex needs. There are around 10-15 children on these type of placements in Scotland at any one time. DOL orders are not recognised in Scots Law so have to be recognised by the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Whilst aware of the strategic context that guides our work, and commitments around a reduction in cross border placements, Ministers have committed to ensure a proper process is in place to ensure these placements are regulated. Regulations need to be in force by mid‑June.

Ms Haughey has met with Will Quince, the UK Government’s Minister for Children and Families, to impress upon him the importance of resolving this as a matter of urgency and officials are in ongoing discussions.

A further paper was published on 25 March setting out key themes and updated proposals for regulating. These include:

  • placements only authorised for up to 3 months before an extension is sought from the High Court
  • conditions about information sharing before, during and after a placement
  • an agreement to be signed by the placing authority in England, undertaking to secure all services in relation to the care of the child, and bear all costs
  • applying provisions of the Children’s Hearings Act so the local authority in England is designated as implementation authority with full responsibility for management of the placement
  • Scottish Ministers have the power to apply for an enforcement order if the local authority does not comply with the regulations

The Regulations will be backed up with administrative agreements between the UK and Scottish Government, including a template placement agreement which will clarify that the placing authority is responsible for securing and paying for services.

The current children’s hearings advocacy contract has been extended to offer independent advocacy to young people in these placements.

Secure care standards scrutiny approach

Kellie and Chris outlined a piece of scrutiny work the Care Inspectorate are planning for 2022/23 to consider the impact of the Standards on the experiences/outcomes of young people in, or on the edges of, secure.

The Care Inspectorate will undertake an appreciative inquiry approach, using the key scrutiny question: ‘How well have services improved the experiences and outcomes of young people before, during or after their secure care journey?’. The inspection team will track a small sample of young people and the pathway and standards will be used to determine the quality of service provision at each stage of the young person’s journey. A single national report will be produced, indicating where Scotland is as a nation, and what the impact of the standards has been. It will aim to present valuable learning and promote the improvement of services.

The Care Inspectorate plan to engage the sector, young people and their parents/carers to develop the question set and Kellie and Chris would be keen to come along to other meetings to do this. They also have a group of young inspection volunteers, but not many have lived experience of being in secure care, so they are keen to hear of others who may wish to be involved.

Action point: group members to let Chris know of further engagement opportunities and of young people who may wish to be involved in inspections.

Secure transport

A paper setting out the issues identified by the secure transport sub-group was circulated. There is also a lot of anecdotal information about waiting times and children being held unnecessarily whilst waiting for court hearings, but there is a lack of data/evidence to suggest what the scale of those issues are. Some of the issues are outwith the scope of the sub-group and further discussion around how these will be addressed is required by the Secure Care Group.

The sub-group have developed a national secure care transport specification. This incorporates the pathway and standards, recommendations from The Promise, UNCRC. It includes detailed information on what the service should look like, including: recruitment of staff, welfare of children and who should be notified should anything happen during the journey. Jillian thanked sub-group members who had been involved in developing this excellent piece of work. When finalised, the specification will be circulated and feedback sought.

Action point: Secure Transport Specification and Issues Log to be added to agenda for next Secure Care Group meeting.

Date of next meeting

It was agreed that the next meeting will be held on the afternoon of 1 June 2022 with Laura Caven in the Chair.

Back to top