Admission to secure care can be a frightening and extremely difficult experience for children and their families (Gough, 2017; Miller and Baxter, 2019). For example, children have advised:
“I didn’t know what to expect. I felt angry, upset, unsure, afraid and nervous” (Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland)
“I thought it was going to look like prison with bars on the windows and cells for me to stay in - I's so glad it didn’t" (Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland)
It is crucial the child and their family are informed and prepared as far as possible before they enter secure care (Scottish Government, 2020). The child should be informed of their rights, how these will be upheld, details of where they will stay and what life is like there, before their stay begins. This information should be shared by someone the child knows and trusts and wherever possible the child should have been able to visit the secure centre before their placement begins. The child should be supported by someone they know on the day of arrival and they should feel welcomed and reassured by everyone.
When a child first enters secure care, an assessment will be undertaken. Someone the child trusts (parent/guardian and/or Lead Professional) should go with child on the day of arrival to support them through this process (Gough, 2016; Scottish Government, 2020). During admission, arrangements should be made by secure care staff for the child to:
- Meet the relevant managerial staff of the children’s house and a representative of the child’s case team
- Be given a tour of the children’s house in which they will initially reside and the whole secure centre
- Be provided with information about their rights, life at the centre, and other information including complaints procedures, fire procedures and prohibited items
- Have the initial risk assessment/risk management plan and individual crisis management plan completed to determine which safety measures are required at this stage
- Be introduced to other children residing in the children’s house and shown their bedroom
- Receive a full examination by the doctor to identify any immediate health needs
- The child social worker should:
- Ensure the child and the staff who will be looking after them have everything they need to keep them safe and healthy
- Share any other relevant information, including the Child’s Plan, education and other reports, and about the child’s physical, mental, emotional and wellbeing needs
- Provide a completed Individual Placement Agreement (IPA). This is an extremely important document which forms the contract between the local authority and secure care centre and provides information about the child’s immediate needs, vulnerabilities and risks, initial outcomes based on the GIRFEC wellbeing indicators , and intended post-placement plans (this will be completed by Children and Young Person’s (CYP) Placement Manager for children sentenced under sections 205(2) or 208 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995).
- Liaise with children’s house staff to agree list and arrangements for supporting the child to stay connected to those who are important to them
Children can be searched when they enter secure care but the decision to do should be based on the child’s circumstances (Scottish Government, 2020). The level and type of search should be proportionate and as least intrusive as possible - this may include a personal search when a child is asked to remove items of clothing by staff of the same gender (Scottish Government, 2015; 2020). Children should only be searched when this is justifiable, there is a legal basis to do so and necessary to keep the child and others safe (Scottish Government, 2020). The child’s views should be taken into account and they should be given choice on how the search might happen (Scottish Government, 2020). Throughout any search the child should be treated with respect, dignity and compassion and supported to understand their rights, the reasons for a search and how it will happen (Scottish Government, 2020). Staff are trained in conducting searches (Scottish Government, 2015).
Resources for this page
- Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014
- Scotland Excel
- Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland
- Wellbeing: A guide to measuring meaningful outcomes
- Gough, A. (2016). Secure Care in Scotland: Looking Ahead. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Gough, A. (2017). Secure Care in Scotland: Young People’s Voices. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Miller, E. and Baxter, K. (2019). Talking Hope. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- Scottish Government. (2015). Rights Information for Young People who are looked After in Secure Care (Scotland). Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
- Scottish Government. (2018). Practice Guidance: Custody of Children and Young People Convicted on Indictment Under Section 205(2) or Section 208 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
- Scottish Government. (2020). Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.