Secure Care

Please contact with any secure care related enquiries. 

Secure Care in Scotland: a background

Secure care in Scotland is the most containing and intense form of alternative care available. It is aimed at the very small number of children and young people whose situations and circumstances result in serious worries that their behaviours pose a high risk of significant harm to themselves and/or others, so that for a particular period, they and/others can only be kept safe through detention in the highly controlled setting of secure care.

Children and young people can be placed in secure care through the Children’s Hearings System (the CHS) or the Courts.  Robust regulations and requirements are in place, aimed at ensuring young people are only secured when and only for as long as absolutely necessary, and that they receive appropriate transition support during and following secure care.

Young people in secure care are almost always those who have experienced childhood adversity and difficulties such as significant losses, abuse, neglect, trauma and disrupted home and school lives.

Since December 2016, there have been 84 secure care places in Scotland.  Four independent charitable organisations each deliver a certain number of placements:

The fifth centre is run by City of Edinburgh Council, which currently provides six places.

Find out more about Secure Care in Scotland.

The Secure Care National Project (2015 to 2018)

Led by Alison Gough, as Secure Care National Advisor, the project worked with a wide range of sector leads, partners and care experienced young people to:

  • ensure the effective delivery of service to children in secure care
  • review current trends, achievements and risks
  • make recommendations to partners about future configuration of the secure estate

Recommendations from the Project led to the establishment of a national Strategic Board to provide leadership and direction, giving a voice to care experienced young people and involving them in driving a long term programme of transformation for secure care and approaches to young people in and on the edges of secure care in Scotland. As part of this, the STARR (secure care experienced advisory) group was created, bringing together adults and young people with lived experience of the care system.

Find out more about the work of the Secure Care National Project.

Related reports and documents

Secure Care in Scotland: A Scoping Study

Secure Care in Scotland: Looking Ahead

Between a rock and a hard place: Responses to offending in Residential Childcare

Chief Social Work Officers and secure care

Secure Care in Scotland: Young People’s Voices

IRISS FM podcast: Between a rock and a hard place

IRISS FM podcast: Secure Care in Scotland

Secure Care Project Plan 2016/17: Q3 and Q4

Secure Care Strategic Board: report to Scottish Ministers

Secure Care Strategic Board minutes

Secure Care Practice Development (2019)

Debbie Nolan, Practice Development Advisor with CYCJ, will continue to work with a range of partners to:

  • support and coordinate design, delivery and implementation of the Secure Care National Standards
  • support improvements, and transformational change, in response to young people where there are extreme needs, vulnerabilities and actual risk of significant harm to self and/or others
  • continue links with the STARR group
  • build on research, evidence and data analysis

This work will feed into the Secure Care Group that has been established to provide strategic oversight to ensure that the remaining tasks of the Secure Care Strategic Board are completed and that there is no overlap or duplication of effort with the work of the Independent Care Review.

Related reports and documents

Secure Care Group: terms of reference
Secure Care Group minutes: June 2019
Secure Care Group minutes: May 2019
Secure Care Group minutes: March 2019
Secure Care Group minutes: September 2019

Submission on behalf of CYCJ to the Justice Committee on Secure Care Places for Children and Young People in Scotland. View the resulting report here. 

Information Sheets

Secure Care in Scotland: Cross border placements (September 2018)

Routes into Secure Care (October 2019)

Get in touch with for more information or to discuss collaborative working opportunities.

Contact Us

Centre for Youth & Criminal Justice
University of Strathclyde
Lord Hope Building, Level 6
141 St. James Road Glasgow G4 0LT

(0141) 444 8622

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