Secure Care Group minutes: September 2021

Minutes of the meeting of the group on 8 September 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Tom McNamara, Scottish Government (chair) 
  • Eddie Follan, COSLA 
  • David Cotterell, Scottish Government (Secretariat) 
  • Liz Murdoch, Scottish Government
  • Fiona McFarlane, The Promise
  • Louise Morrison, Good Shepherd Centre
  • Kenny Collins, Good Shepherd Centre
  • Ben Farrugia, Social Work Scotland
  • Colin Convery, Police Scotland
  • Debbie Nolan, CYCJ
  • David Mitchell, Rossie Young People’s Trust 
  • Kevin Miller, St Mary’s, Kenmure 
  • Karen Ralston, St Mary’s, Kenmure
  • Melissa Hunt, SCRA 
  • Victoria McInulty, National Secure Adolescent Inpatient Service
  • James McKenzie, Scotland Excel 
  • Zoe Brawn, Scotland Excel 
  • Janine McCullough, Education Scotland
  • Liam Slaven, STARR
  • Jillian Gibson, COSLA 
  • Gill Robinson, Scottish Prison Service
  • Maria Gali, CYPCS
  • Janine McCullough, Education Scotland 
  • Jacqueline Hardie, Scottish Government Mental Health 


  • Alison Gough, Good Shepherd Centre 
  • Beth-Anne Logan, STARR
  • Mary Geaney, Rossie 
  • Rebecca Green, Scotland Excel 
  • Andy Sloan, Care Inspectorate
  • Chris Wright, Care Inspectorate 
  • Ross Gibson, CYCJ 
  • Stephen McLeod, Scottish Government
  • Helen Smith, National Secure Adolescent Inpatient Service
  • Fi McFarlane, The Promise 

Items and actions


Liz welcomed the group and agreed the note of the 22 June 2021. Liz chaired agenda items 1 and 2 and Tom took over as Chair once he joined the call for agenda item 3.

Outstanding action points

Action point: Scottish Government to re-draft the ToR and circulate to members for sign off – CLEARED, agenda item see below.

Action point: Melissa Hunt offered to look at the available data held by CHS to gather information on the number of young people who had appealed their placement in secure care. CLEARED Melissa provided the data which was shared with the group.

Action point: Eddie to look at the transport issue in more detail and bring this topic back to the next meeting. CLEARED and update provided.

Following the last meeting Jillian had met with Debbie to discuss transport and a paper was considered at the August COSLA Children and Young People board meeting. Jillian shared a summary of that paper with the group.

The issue of secure transport is longstanding and complex. Despite several efforts in the past this issue has not been resolved.

Debbie asked the groups permission to establish a sub-group to take this work forward to find a solution. This was agreed with the Secure care group maintaining overall responsibility for the issue.

Scotland Excel have carried out some preliminary work and will be involved in the sub-group. It is also hoped that Local Authority transport colleagues would be involved.

It was noted that the sub-group is due to meet on 30 September.

Action point 1: all members to let Debbie know if they or someone else from their organisation would like to be involved in the work of the sub-group looking at secure transport.

Terms of reference

Tom invited comments from the group on the revised terms of reference. 

It was felt that is should be made clearer in the terms of reference that there will be asks of members going forward to progress our work. It was acknowledged that members were unlikely to make decisions themselves at the meeting but there would be an expectation that these issues would be taken back to organisations/Boards for sign off. Additional time would need to be factored in to allow for the sign off process.

It is vital we link in to the work of the Promise and understand what groups they are planning. We also need to be aware of the possible impact on the National Care Service consultation.

The Programme for Government was published on 7 September and has plans for a Care and Justice Bill which will impact on our work particularly on providing a route for all appropriate 16 to 17 year olds in Polmont to access secure care.

It is important to not lose focus on our core work while ensuring that we linked to these other important context-affecting activities. There had already been a lot of ground work done working towards our aims.

Action point 2: members to send any final comments on the ToR to David by 22 September.

CYPCS published paper – Statutory Duties in Secure Accommodation: Unlocking Children’s Rights

Debbie said she was concerned about the consistency of support being offered to organisations regarding the recommendations of investigation. For example LA’s may be contacting CYCJ, COSLA, SWS or Scottish Government seeking advice and so it would be helpful to join up to ensure we are not duplicating effort. 

The investigation made recommendations about scrutiny, review of the guidance, legislation and the role of the reporter. There was a strong call for Scottish Government to be more involved in a clear environment and upgrade scrutiny with inspections carried out by the Care Inspectorate to ensure the statutory duty of recording decision was in place.

Maria advised that progress by the CYPCS on follow up activity had been slower than she had hoped. This was down to combination of factors, not least the pandemic. CYPCS are working on how best to engage with stakeholders, particularly young people and staff in secure accommodation and CSWOs.

CYPCS Top issues

  • the impact on children is what matters and they need to know what their rights are before during and after secure care
  • CYPCS would welcome the opportunity to engage with Statutory bodies / CSWO
  • visit secure homes to speak to children and staff
  • help improve the recording of decisions and make clear the roles of Care Inspectorate, SWS and Education Scotland

Maria said there is also a key question that needs to be answered, should CSWO still have arbitrary emergency powers to secure a young person – what are the appeal rights / remedies should they wish to dispute this?

The update from Maria was helpful and the group asked how they could contribute to this work and what the time scales are that the CYPCS are working to as this will help with planning for any policy and legislative change.

CSWOs do not take lightly their responsibilities when deciding to implement emergency secure orders. Karen and Louise advised that there were good practice examples of where the support offered has been positive, this could be shared to help inform young people why they are to be placed in secure care.

There needs to be a method statement from a child’s view around what effective communication is and features of the conversations that need to happen based on good practice.

It was acknowledged that there have been improvements made since the investigation but there is still work to be done. It would be helpful to have in place examples of good practice clearly showing how decisions are taken and best communicated to young people.

Ben made it clear the investigation was not about inappropriate use of secure care, nor about territorial failings in individual local authorities. Whilst there are individual examples showing things did not go well, there will also be examples in the same LA where good practice was in evidence . There is a need to understand the challenges and barriers front line staff face, and a workforce perspective is required as well as that of children and young people. CSWO and SWS need to be open about practices and how that can be improved.

It was agreed that it would be helpful to discuss this further with CYPCS, SWS Scottish Government and COSLA.

Action point 3: Scottish Government to set up a meeting with CYPCS, SWS, COSLA and SG to discuss action to be taken.

CYCJ – Update 

CYCJ continue to offer and provide support to all organisations towards phased implementation of the Secure Care Pathway and Standards.

CYCJ support is taking three broad stages:

  • self-evaluation, learning, and improvement
  • modelling and sharing examples of good practice
  • more detailed implementation support

CYCJ have contacted all 32 Local Authorities. 2 Local Authorities are represented on the Standards Champions group and a further 3 have completed self-evaluation sessions and are now progressing work to build upon this learning. 5 have started these sessions and 4 have had an initial input. Others are at different stages of planning and in total 23 LA’s have been in contact and are working on the standards with CYCJ support.

Themes that have been coming up during the engagement sessions are:

  • mental health
  • access to advocacy
  • information sharing, communication and better understanding of decision making, including with children and between agencies
  • language
  • understanding children’s needs
  • how children can be better supported throughout their journey
  • family support, and access to services

The Secure Care Champions Group has met twice since June. The secure care centres have been working on the standards for much longer having been involved in their co-production and work on implementation is more advanced. Centres are having really good collaborative discussions, sharing experiences and good practice.

CYCJ still see gaps in engaging with other stakeholders for example health, education, police, legal and judiciary and crown. However there may be work ongoing CYCJ are not yet aware of. CYCJ are keen to hear about what organisation are doing to raise awareness or implement the standards and whether CYCJ help.

A power of work has been achieved by Debbie and Ross in championing the standards to which they were thanked.

Action point 4: members to contact Debbie directly to share what actions their organisation is carrying out towards implementation of the standards and what help they might need from CYCJ.

Debbie highlighted two upcoming events:

  1. 5 October – Online session, open to all agencies-Secure Care Pathway and Standards – What, Why and How We Can Help. This will give an overview of the Standards, why they’re important and the story so far, plus experiences shared by partners who are on the journey of implementation and the STARR group.
  2. 2. 14 October – Secure Care Champions Session at the Good Shepherd Centre to discuss what the Promise and the Change Programme and the Standards implementation mean for children on the edges of and in secure care.

CYCJ have recruited a new participation worker Mathew Cairney. Mathew will support the STARR group and wider participation activity.

Unfortunately the 4 nation’s research bid was not approved. The group are meeting to discuss the positive feedback received and are hoping to submit elsewhere.

Sexual health research in Greater Glasgow and Clyde is progressing and Talking Hope 3 funded by Scottish Government is due to get underway soon.

The Promise

Fi was unable to attend the meeting to provide an update. It was agreed a written update would be provided.

Action point 5: David to contact Fi to ask for a short written update from the Promise team.


The STARR group met in person on 7 September in Glasgow. The group are mapping out the vision and journey so far. What is the purpose of STARR and what are the next steps. STARR are actively recruiting new members. 

STARR have a new vision in draft which will be circulated after the group meet again towards the end of September.

STARR are keen to know how sibling rights now in legislation are being implemented in secure accommodation services.

Tom explained there is work ongoing with SCRA, Clan and advocacy providers to further support the recently-expanded hearings advocacy scheme to include brothers and sisters.

Action point 6: Tom and Melissa Hunt agreed to meet with Debbie and Liam to discuss this further. Debbie to find a date for the meeting.

National secure adolescent inpatient service

Victoria McInulty the new Service Manager for Foxgrove provided an update. The pandemic has impacted on progress towards starting the building work. They are going through an assurance process at the moment which when completed will provide clearer timescales. Victoria has already made some contacts but is keen to engage with other groups and stakeholders which may have an interest in the mental health facility. If you have suggestions or would like to speak to Victoria please contact her direct on

Cross border placements to secure and residential

Tom reminded the group there are statutory arrangements for secure accommodation cross border placements. There were good reasons for this being put in place in 2017, including sustainability of Scotland’s secure services while we explore and incorporate the issues raised by potentially taking young people aged 16 – 17 out of YOI. There is a real appetite to delivering on that decarceration commitment.

The Deprivation of Liberty orders in residential care homes is a different issue, although there are certain parallels and potential impacts. This involves children being placed in small residential units and being deprived of their liberty. There is a range of anxieties and concerns around this.

The Supreme Court judgement ruled that this is lawful, however, from a policy position lawful does not equate to acceptable in a Scottish Getting it Right for Every Child context.

Discussions are underway around how the relevant authorities and agencies can satisfy these placements are in the best interests of the child once in the placement and ensuring that their access to advocacy, safeguards and other rights supports are respected. 

Scottish Government need to see there is appropriate scrutiny and the correct level of inspection for these residential facilities. We need to be clear about the significant differences between placements to secure rather than small residential settings.

We need to discuss and agree the difference between interference, restriction and deprivation of liberty and what are the legal authorisations that need to be in place to regulate each of them.

Kevin said he cared passionately about not depriving children of their liberty however if there are vacant beds secure providers are left with no option but to take cross border placements to remain sustainable. Kevin feels young people are still being remanded to YOI rather than secure care due to costs. We need to take action now to implement the Promise and not first look at costs.

There is a high level of concern from the CYPCS about young people being deprived of their liberty in small independent residential care homes. Immediate action is needed, however, CYPCS are heartened by the support from Scottish Government on this issue. It would be helpful if there was a default position that all under 18’s will be remanded or sentenced to secure accommodation.

The Competition and Market Authority study into children’s social care market will provide drivers for change particularly around breadth and depth of provision in England and Wales.

Tom said there are several people in government working on the cross border issue and the planned Bill next year may help resolve this issue.

Ministers have received ongoing advice on cross border placements and possible future funding options for secure care. There is a planned meeting with Ministers and Law officers in the coming weeks.

Scottish Government hope to have more information we can share next month.

National Care Service - consultation

The internal Scottish Government presentation was shared prior to the meeting.

The group felt the NCS consultation may be bigger than many thought and could include a once and for all response to children’s care. 

Whilst there was context in the Feeley review, there has not been the same level of context regarding including children and families. 

All members are encouraged to engage in the discussions, including the possible nationalisation of secure care for children.

It was agreed that a fuller discussion is needed before the consultation ends on 2 November.

Action point 7: Scottish Government to bring forward the date of the next meeting to October in order to discuss the NCS in more detail.

AOB and agree date of the next meeting

The next meeting will take place on Monday 11 October with the focus on: -

  • national care service – consultation
  • cross border placements
  • update on the CYPCS paper
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