Secure Care National Project

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’ve 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.

Secure Care National Project

CYCJ is home to the Secure Care National Project, commissioned by Scottish Government to undertake an independent, strategic and practice focused review of secure care in Scotland.

Led by Alison Gough, the Secure Care National Advisor, between August 2015 and March 2016, 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

Find out more about the Secure Care National Project.


The Secure Care National Project has now entered a new phase of work, supporting the Strategic   Board for Secure Care in Scotland.  We continue to work closely with the following bodies with the aim of securing a better future for Scotland’s children and young people.


CELCIS (the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland) is dedicated to making positive and lasting improvements in the wellbeing of children and young people living in and on the edges of care, and their families, across the whole country, and the globe. Find out more.

Spotlight on secure care

Monthly updates on secure care and related topics will be provided in the CYCJ e-bulletin every month and shared here.

Spotlight on Secure Care and Custody: August 2017

Spotlight on Secure Care and Custody: January 2018

Spotlight on Secure Care and Custody: February 2018

Spotlight on Secure Care and Custody: March 2018

Spotlight on Secure Care and Custody: April 2018

Spotlight on Secure Care and Custody: June 2018

Key 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 National Project Extension Plan


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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