Secure care


Secure care is among the most intensive and restrictive forms of care available to children and young people in Scotland. The Secure Accommodation (Scotland) Regulations 2013 and Public Service Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 define secure accommodation as accommodation provided for the purpose of restricting the liberty of children in a residential establishment, where care services are provided.

Secure care, accommodation and education in Scotland can be provided for 84 children and young people (with six additional ‘emergency’ or ‘respite’ places across the centres) aged 10-18 through:

See Secure Accommodation Network Scotland for more information.

All children and young people in secure care have either been sentenced or remanded through court, or placed through the Children’s Hearings System as looked after children subject to a Compulsory Supervision Order (CSO) or an Interim Compulsory Supervision Order (ICSO), with an authorisation for secure accommodation issued by a children’s hearing on conditions as defined in section 83(6) Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011.

Family members should where possible and appropriate be involved throughout a young person’s time in secure care. Moreover, under article 37, the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states children deprived of their liberty should be supported to maintain contact with their families except in exceptional circumstances. It is also important that family members receive support in their own right.

Partnership working with the child or young person, family members, and all relevant professionals is fundamental in ensuring positive outcomes and successful reintegration.


Responsibilities for children and young people in secure care

For children and young people on remand

The local authority is responsible for the placement, payment for this placement and transport to and during the child or young person’s time in secure care.

For sentenced children and young people

For children or young people sentenced under section 44 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (summary procedure; the child or young person has been ordered to be detained in residential accommodation for a period not exceeding one year - it is for the local authority to determine the appropriate residential placement and this can include secure care): The local authority is responsible for the placement, payment for this placement and transport to and during the child or young person’s stay in secure care.

For children or young people sentenced under sections 205(2) or 208 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (solemn procedure): The Scottish Government is responsible for the placement, payment for this placement and transport to and during the child or young person’s stay in secure care.


Prior to admission to secure care

For children and young people on remand

The local authority must have received a warrant from the court and/or reached agreement between the Chief Social Work Officer and the person in charge of the secure unit that this placement is necessary.

For sentenced children and young people

For children or young people sentenced under section 44 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995: As above for those on remand.

For children or young people sentenced under sections 205(2) (of murder) or 208 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (under solemn procedure): The Children and Young Person’s (CYP) Placement Manager at Scottish Government must have received a warrant from the court and completed a placement order detailing which secure unit the child or young person will go to.

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