Secure Care Group minutes: December 2021

Minutes and update paper from the meeting of the Secure Care Group on 8 December 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Laura Caven, COSLA (Chair)
  • Liz Murdoch, SG Youth Justice
  • Alison Melville, SG Youth Justice (Secretariat)
  • Jillian Gibson, COSLA
  • Victoria McInulty, National Secure Adolescent Inpatient Service
  • Helen Smith, National Secure Adolescent Inpatient Service
  • Sinclair Soutar, Kibble Safe Centre
  • Chris Wright, Care Inspectorate
  • Jacqueline Hardie, SG Mental Health
  • Kevin Miller, St Mary’s Kenmure
  • Debbie Nolan, SG Youth Justice & Children’s Hearings
  • Ruby Whitelaw, CYCJ
  • Beth-Anne Logan, STARR
  • Melissa Hunt, SCRA
  • Daniel Clark, Police Scotland CYP Team
  • James Mackenzie, Scotland Excel
  • Mary Geaney, Rossie Young People’s Trust
  • Alison Gough, Good Shepherd Centre
  • Maria Galli, CYPCS
  • Joanna Macdonald, SG Office of the Chief Social Work Adviser
  • Nick Hobbs, CYPCS


  • Tom McNamara, SG Youth Justice & Children’s Hearings
  • Aileen Blower, SG Mental Health
  • Janine Mccullough, Education Scotland
  • Colin Convery, Police Scotland CYP Team
  • Ben Farrugia, SWS
  • Andy Sloan, Care Inspectorate
  • Zoe Brawn, Scotland Excel
  • Gill Robinson, SPS

Items and actions



Laura has re-joined COSLA’s Children and Young People Team, taking over from Eddie Follan as Chief Officer. She introduced herself to those she had not worked with previously.

Note of last meeting

There was an action point to arrange a meeting between the Children and Young People Commissioner Scotland (CYPCS), COSLA, Social Work Scotland (SWS) and the Scottish Government (SG) to discuss actions arising from the Commissioner’s report. This meeting took place on 14 October 2021.

The group were content to agree the note of the meeting.


An update paper was circulated in advance of the meeting.

Scottish Government

Liz told the group that the SG and COSLA are in negotiation around options for the future funding of secure care. The SG have also been meeting individually with the heads and chairs of secure care centres to seek their views on how we can work together to meet the recommendations of The Promise, particularly around removing under 18s from Polmont.

Issues in the past week due to lack of availability have highlighted the need to address the current funding model which has led to providers relying on cross-border placements to ensure viability. 

Cross Border Deprivation of​​​​​​ Liberty (DOL) cases

Maria highlighted CYPSC’s concern about the use of private children’s houses to restrict a child’s liberty from England and Wales. They are keen to ensure that new regulations take account of the human rights issues around their use and that the legislation is brought into force as soon as possible. 

Liz confirmed that SG share these concerns and are trying to put mechanisms in place to address this issue and to better regulate cross-border placements in the short-term. The Scottish Government will also be consulting on a policy position paper on cross-border placements as soon as possible. This will be for four weeks, rather than the normal 12 week consultation period due to the urgency to bring in regulations. 

In addition to restriction of liberty, Helen raised concerns about meeting the mental health needs of young people being placed with private providers who do not have the services in place to meet their needs, with no local health board involvement. 

Liz assured Helen that whilst the DOL legislative aspect is a priority, the Chief Social Work Adviser is also concerned about the wider picture of young people in residential units and the impact. SG Health colleagues are aware of the issue and she will continue to ensure appropriate links are made, including with members of this group.

Action point: Liz to speak to SG Looked after Children colleagues to pick up on the health issues around Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard (DoLs) orders with Helen 

Alison G highlighted a case this week where the lack of available beds resulted in a 17 year old boy being remanded to Polmont and emphasised the need for a national mechanism for managing placements.

Debbie confirmed that this is something which will be addressed in the forthcoming Care and Justice Bill which will be consulted on in February, with introduction later in 2022. 

Chris highlighted the Care Inspectorate’s role in policy work alongside legislative provision being undertaken around the cross-border DoLS placements and confirmed that an intensive piece of work around dedicated inspection of cross-border placements involving DoLS orders will begin in January.

Approval of secure accommodation services

The SG is also developing a secure care approval mechanism which will ensure new providers have to meet the same high levels of service currently offered by our secure care centres.

Alison G asked whether the approval process would join up with other parts of the system and legal duties in relation to children coming to Scotland. Liz explained that the approval process would be purely about the provision of a secure accommodation service but agreed we would not want to put something in place which would have a knock on effect elsewhere. 

A paper setting out the registration/approval process will be shared with heads of secure centres for their views before Christmas and it would be helpful if they could highlight any unintended consequences of the new mechanism.


Secure transport

The minutes of the first two sub-group meetings were included in the update paper.

A smaller group has been set up to develop a specification for secure transport. At its first meeting there was a discussion around the definition of secure transport, when it's required and principles for specification. Collaboration is ongoing between meetings and the group are considering how best to bring the voice of young people into the service specification. Karen confirmed that St Mary’s have already started discussions with young people around their transport experiences.

The next full group of the meeting is planned for 24 January 2022.

Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice

Debbie explained she has moved on secondment to work for the Scottish Government as professional advisor in the Care and Justice Bill Team. She thanked everyone for their support and introduced Ruby Whitelaw who will take over at Children and Young People Centre for Justice (CYCJ) as practice development advisor for secure care.

Laura thanked Debbie for her work in many areas, particularly for pushing forward implementation of the Secure Care Standards.

Ruby’s initial focus will be on working with agencies who are still in the awareness raising/self-evaluation stage of implementing the standards. She will also consider how best to capture learning and support people in moving through work on improvement.

CYCJ will develop a report to capture the learning, achievements and key themes. They are also compiling case studies to capture work for publication on the website and are keen to include examples from education, health, local authorities & police. A pro-forma was circulated with the papers for the meeting and CYCJ are happy to support their development if needed.

Action point: members to send case studies to Ruby Whitelaw by 17 January 2022.


Beth-Anne gave an update on the STARR group who had met the day before to focus on their workplan. One of the main themes is recruitment for members and the development of a plan to get the word out to people with experience of secure care. A Twitter page has also been launched..

STARR are drafting a letter to go to Secure Care Centres, COSLA and SOLACE highlighting their purpose (to advise, inform, challenge and change) and asking people to get in touch.

Laura agreed to circulate to members and LA Chief Executives highlighting any asks from STARR.

Action point – Beth-Anne to send letter to Laura for circulation.

Action point – all members to signpost the STARR group to young people with experience of secure care who may have an interest.

FCAHMS pathway

Jackie is continuing to engage widely to get a sense of what the FCAHMS pathway needs to be. They are looking at creating regional hubs to deliver a number of specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) services – including forensics and secure – so that standards are equitable across the country. Jackie has been engaging with colleagues across Tier three CAMHS, in secure settings and in Polmont about requirements for a specialist tier service.

She explained each NHS Board has links to regional hubs in the North, South, East and West of Scotland. It will be down to these regions to take decisions on where the hubs will be situated and there is a set process for engagement. Jackie’s team have been working with regional directors of planning in NHS who help ensure the right people are around the table.

She is hoping to start a reference group in January to develop standards and principles and is keen to ensure young people are involved. It has been challenging to find people who are keen with recent enough experience of services. 

Action point – members to let Aileen/Jackie know if interested in this work and/or joining reference group.

National Secure Adolescent Inpatient Service

Victoria and Helen were pleased to announce that ground has been broken and work started on the building of Foxgrove. They are updating the needs assessment and will be collecting data to do that before the New Year. The full business case is still to be signed off but they hope that will be done soon.

National Care Service

Joanna Macdonald, Deputy Chief Social Work Adviser, gave an overview of the independent review into adult social care and the consultation which followed. 

The consultation closed on 2 November and independent analysts are now reviewing the 800 individual and 400 organisational responses. Publication of their report is currently planned for the end of January. She emphasised that no decisions have been made and Ministers will meet to reach a decision towards the end of February, with legislation tabled in June 2022.

Group members asked about the late addition of children’s and justice services, the evidence for including them and whether the inclusion of children and justice services would deliver the Promise.

Joanna acknowledged that the addition of children’s/justice services did come later, and the controversy this has caused. Because 12 Integrated Joint Boards include children’s services and half include justice, change would have been required whether they are included or not. Their inclusion now, presents a real opportunity to be clear about unanticipated consequences, working together to deliver improvements and consistency across the country. If the decision is that they are not included, we will still need to think about how to make improvements.

Joanna summarised some of the evidence which is available including studies of what’s working and why, and the work of the Promise in tandem with disability groups but agreed there are gaps. Part of the analyst’s work will be to pull together the significant evidence from consultation responses. 

Joanna confirmed that discussions are now taking place with the Promise Team and connections being made with the Oversight Board. A meeting was held recently with Who Cares Scotland to ask for their support in helping deliver improvement whatever Ministers decide.

Joanna was asked if she had a sense from responses how secure care sits within this, given its unique position, sitting across many services. Although she didn’t have that level of detail, she recognised the impact and positive work being done in secure care and assured all that it would be a fundamental part of considerations.

CYPCS report - follow up visits

Following publication of his report ‘Statutory Duties in Secure Accommodation: Unlocking children’s rights’, the Children’s Commissioner is planning to visit all secure care centres.

Nick Hobbs explained that these visits are not an extension of the investigation which looked at compliance with legal duties around placement consultation, recording of decisions and appeal rights. The follow up visits will have an improvement focus and provide an opportunity for the Commissioner to hear directly from children about their experiences. Mindful of COVID-19 restrictions the visits have been delayed but are now being planned for the end of January/early February.

Alison G welcomed the visit, recognising that young people's voices were not part of original investigations. She also highlighted how this work fits with work of the Champions Board and specific standards around decision making and arrival in secure care.

Debbie suggested that as the report included recommendations about placement arrangements and mechanisms and the position of Chief Social Work Officers (CSWOs) in terms of emergency placement there would be merit in a further discussion about this and how to monitor standards. Nick acknowledged that the Standards were not in place when the report was written and confirmed he would be happy to take part in discussions.

Debbie also suggested a separate conversation about the legislative provisions needed to support some of the recommendations.

Action point: SG Youth Justice/COSLA to organise a follow-up meeting to discuss recommendation of the report.

Action point: Debbie to discuss legislative requirement arising from recommendations as part of her new role within the SG Care and Justice Bill team.

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

Date of next meeting

The next meeting will be held at 10.00am on Wednesday 23 February 2022.

Action point: Alison M to circulate a calendar request.

Update paper

Scottish Government

Cross Border – Nobile Officium Cases and Government response

A range of legislative and policy actions are in train relating to cross-border placements of children and young people with Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards orders (DoLS orders) into residential childcare in Scotland. The intention is to deal with the fundamentals of the issue via the Care and Justice Bill.

The UK Supreme Court published their judgment in late July on the lawfulness of such placements. Within current constraints, we therefore need some a legal mechanism to regulate these placements.

The nature and increasing frequency of cross-border placements continues to be a policy concern. There are currently 13 live petitions from the English ‘placing’ local authorities to the parens patriae / Nobile officium jurisdictions of the Inner House of the Court of Session.

Ministers have therefore agreed to proceed with:

  • affirmative regulations under section 190 of the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 laid in spring 2022, to provide that a DoLS order is to have effect as if it were a Compulsory Supervision Order made by a children’s hearing or sheriff, but with additional criteria built in around information sharing and multi-agency discussion. Sector engagement on proposed approach to regulations to begin before Christmas
  • accompanying policy actions, including: care Inspectorate activity; strengthened secure care approval mechanism; engagement with UK Government and English placing authorities

Care and Justice Bill

A commitment to legislate to deal with a range of children’s care and justice matters was included in September’s Programme for Government. 

This Bill is provisionally scheduled for introduction late in 2022. A Bill Team Leader has been recruited, along with professional advisers, and support staff will be identified early in the new year. The aim is to consult on Bill content and policy intentions around February 2022.

National Care Service Consultation

Consultation closed on 2 November. We understand that analysis will be published in January 2022. Joanna MacDonald, the Scottish Government’s Deputy Chief Social Work Advisor, will provide an update at the meeting.

Youth Justice Improvement Board

Next meeting of YJIB on 7 December. Likely to be strong emphasis on cross-system issues and 16 to 17 year olds matters.

Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 – commencement

The Minister for Children and Young People confirmed to the Parliament on 18 November that the remaining provisions in the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 will be commenced on 17 December 2021. This will fully commence the Act, and increase the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland to 12.

UNCRC Incorporation Legislation

On 6 October, the UK Supreme Court judgment on UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill found each of the provisions referred by the UK Law Officers to be outwith the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government is clearly disappointed by, but respects, the Court’s judgment.

We remain committed to the incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to the maximum extent possible as soon as practicable. While the judgment means that the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill could not receive Royal Assent in its current form, the majority of work in relation to implementation of the UNCRC can proceed and is continuing.

We are urgently and carefully considering the implications of the judgment and how best to take that work forward. We will undertake targeted engagement with stakeholders before final decisions are made. Options need careful consideration to ensure that they address the areas found to be outwith competence, deliver the UNCRC policy and avoid further challenge.


Jillian will provide a verbal update on secure transport at the meeting.

Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice

Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland 

To date eight local authority areas have completed self-evaluation workshops (East Ayrshire Council, South Lanarkshire Council, North Lanarkshire Council, Glasgow City Council, Tayside ( three areas-Dundee, Angus and Perth and Kinross), and South Ayrshire). In three areas, this activity is collectively underway (Midlothian, East Lothian and West Lothian). Four other areas have has a level of input via SWS Highlands and Islands subgroup and are considering future input (Argyll and Bute, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Orkney and Shetland). Plans are also underway for three other areas to have collective input, following an initial session (Forth Valley-Clackmannanshire, Stirling and Falkirk), and also in Highland and East Renfrewshire.

A number of further local authority areas are also represented on the Standards Champions Group (East Ayrshire, Dundee, Dumfries and Galloway, Highland, Edinburgh, North Lanarkshire Council (via STARR)) and details have been shared with Perth and Kinross.

Of these remain nine areas, only four have either not responded to CYCJ contact nor attended the Secure Care Pathway and Standards – What, Why and How We Can Help session held on 5 October. This session was attended by 68 participants, from across a range of local authority areas, SCRA, secure care centres, third sector organisations, health and participants outwith Scotland.

Efforts to reach out to other agencies continue. Initial plans are in place for input to staff at SCRA and Who Cares? Scotland. A blog has also been published for CHS, which will form part of Panel Members training. From completed self-evaluation sessions, other agencies where it would appear further follow up is required to discuss activity and support in respect of the Standards are: health, education, police, legal representatives, and judiciary and COPFS. Any assistance from this group would be much appreciated.

The issue of measuring impact in respect of the Standards continues to be raised. The ability to capture children and young people’s voices and experiences has been discussed with the Standards Champions. In addition, CYCJ have started to develop a report capturing the journey of implementing the Standards and the learning from this; achievements; and key themes. The next stage of this report is to finalise information on implementation approaches and to gather more specific information and examples from agencies. This will be achieved through targeted and open requests for input, including via this group. In capturing case specific examples of activity in respect of individual Standards to be reflected on the website, a case study proforma has been shared. Feedback on this at the meeting would be welcomed. Continuing discussions through this group on how this can be achieved beyond these proposals will be beneficial.

Secure Care Pathway and Standards Champions Group

The group met in October and November. The first session focused on activity, opportunities, challenges, hopes and fears in respect of implementing the Standards and the Promise, with a number of common themes identified. From this session a range of potential future actions for the group were identified. The follow up session focused on how these actions could be undertaken and the how group could work most effectively. This gives lots of ideas for the future of this group.


Mathew Cairney is now in post as a part-time Participation Worker who will be supporting STARR. Mathew is in the process of arranging meetings with all of the secure care centres to introduce himself, update on STARR, and identify existing participation activity and rights information to identify the additionality STARR could afford and proposed rights work could build on.

Ruby Whitelaw will be covering Debbie Nolan’s secondment having left Kibble and starting in post on 7 December.


Stage three of Talking Hope has begun, with an expanded range of partners, including CYCJ, Good Shepherd, St Mary’s, Rossie, Foxgrove, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, University of Strathclyde and University of Edinburgh. The project is being funded by the Scottish Government and Includem.

Drawing on data from one secure children’s home in North East England, Martin et al (2021) have undertaken a study of the exposure to ACEs amongst residents. This allows for a range of comparisons to be made to the English population within Scottish placements. Webb et al (2021) similarly conducted a study of exposure amongst children with developmental disorders within secure CAMHS provision in England.

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