Secure care
Movement into custody

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:


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.

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