Secure care
Admission process

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:

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).