Secure Care

CYCJ was home to the Secure Care National Project (2015 to 2018), which was commissioned by the Scottish Government to undertake an independent, strategic and practice focused review of secure care in Scotland. We will continue to undertake work focused on Scotland’s secure estate, alongside the Independent Care Review.

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’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.

The Secure Care National Project (2015 to 2018)

Led by Alison Gough, the 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) 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


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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