In accordance with the Whole System Approach (WSA), children should remain in secure care for as much of their sentence as possible rather than transferring to custody. Children can remain in secure care until their 18th birthday. The Independent Care Review (2020) and Scottish Parliament Justice Committee (2019) recommended that any child who turns 18 while in secure should be able to remain, with any move based on an assessment of vulnerability and need as opposed to solely on age, and Scotland is currently working towards implementation of these recommendations.
The transition from secure care to custody can be unsettling, distressing and traumatising for children (CYCJ, 2020). It is important to plan any such move, fully involving the child in these plans, and to schedule it for the most appropriate time for the child. The plan for the move should include:
- Ensuring the child knows where they are going, what will happen when they get there and explain what daily life is like
- Information on changes to structures and routines, such as in respect of staffing, time with family, available supports and education
- Ensuring a pre-transition review meeting takes place and that the identified hall manager or Personal Officer from Scottish Prison Service (SPS) attends this to give and receive information including about the Young Offenders Institution (YOI)
- If appropriate, arranging for the child and family members to visit the YOI before moving
- Providing the YOI with as full and relevant information as possible to support making a child’s admission, understanding of need and experiences, support, care planning and management of this transition as appropriate as possible. The Expert Review of Provision of Mental Health Services at HMP YOI Polmont (HMIPS, 2019) concluded that despite significant information often being available, there was concerning variation in the sharing of this information, at times resulting in an "impoverished level of information available, creating unnecessary risk” and potentially serious harm to the child (p.31)
- Where a child is sentenced under section 205(2) or section 208 Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 the CYP Placement Manager will lead on making plans and arrangements for the child’s move from secure care to custody (Scottish Government, 2018). The SPS and Scottish Government have a protocol for this. For all children, the lead professional has a key role in ensuring the above.
Staff from the secure care centre should be invited to the child’s initial custody review meeting and any other meetings as appropriate.
When a child discloses they have previously been in secure care but entered custody from the community, YOI staff should contact the relevant secure care centre, with the child’s consent, for information to inform assessment and planning and to identify whether any support can be offered to sustain or rebuild previous relationships.
Family members may have questions or concerns and may not know who to ask. All professionals should seek to provide as much information and support to family members as possible, as well as to signpost families to any other supports for example regarding mediation, to support maintaining contact with their child, and organisations like Families Outside.
Resources for this page
- Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995
- Families Outside
- Scottish Prison Service (SPS)
- Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland
- Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ). (2020). A Guide to Youth Justice in Scotland: policy, practice and legislation: Reintegration and Transitions. Glasgow: CYCJ.
- HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland (HMIPS). (2019). The Expert Review of Provision of Mental Health Services at HMP YOI Polmont. Edinburgh: HMIPS.
- Independent Care Review. (2020). The Promise. Glasgow: Independent Care Review.
- Malloch, M. (2013). In Their Own Right: Support for families with a young person in secure accommodation. Edinburgh: Families Outside.
- Malloch, M. (2014). In Brief In Their Own Right: Support for families with a young person in secure accommodation. Edinburgh: Families Outside.
- Scottish Government. (2011). Reintegration and Transitions – Guidance for Local Authorities, Community Planning Partnerships and Service Providers. 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.
- Scottish Parliament Justice Committee (2019). Secure Care and Prison Places for Children and Young People in Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Parliament.