Secure Care in Scotland
Secure accommodation is among the most intensive and restrictive “alternative form” of care available to children in Scotland, whereby children up to age 18 are detained in a locked care setting, through the Children’s Hearings System or justice system, due to the level of concern about risks of, or actual significant harm, their behaviours pose to themselves and/or others. Secure care aims to provide intensive support, care and education to keep these children safe and to meet the extremely high levels of need and vulnerability experienced by these children. 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.
Children 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:
- Good Shepherd Centre (Bishopton): 18 places
- Kibble Education and Care Centre (Paisley): 18 places
- Rossie Young People’s Trust (Montrose): 18 places
- St Mary’s Kenmure (Bishopbriggs): 24 places
The fifth centre is run by City of Edinburgh Council, which currently provides six places. For more information see Secure Accommodation Network Scotland.
Secure Care during COVID-19: update
During the pandemic, Scotland’s five secure care centres all have robust service continuity and contingency plans in place which are being reviewed as new guidance and advice becomes available.
The secure centres are working hard to keep to the normal daily routine wherever possible, including continuing with education and support programmes. Staff are working closely with young people to ease their concerns and ensure they are able to stay safe and in regular contact with their families. All units have new individual risk based admission process that is agreed with the placing authorities.
The Scottish Government is chairing a weekly meeting of all five secure services, Education Scotland, Scotland Excel and the Care Inspectorate which supports contingency planning. There are many inspiring examples of creative practice and strategies to support young people during this time, which CYCJ are hoping to collate as case studies. Please contact email@example.com to discuss secure care provision during this time.
Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland: launched October 2020
The Secure Care Pathway and Standards Scotland (referred to as Pathway and Standards) for the first time set out what all children in or on the edges of secure care should expect across the continuum of intensive supports and services. They apply to all children in or on the edges of secure care, and to all individuals and agencies supporting these children.
The Pathway and Standards provide a framework for ensuring rights are respected, and improving experiences and outcomes. They are not service led; they follow a child’s potential journey before, during and after a stay in secure care and are written from their perspective. The Pathway is made up of 44 Standards focusing on the areas that children and young people detailed were the most important to them and had the greatest impact on their experiences. The following resources have been developed to support implementation:
- A simple self-evaluation, learning and improvement template
- A half-day workshop session to raise awareness of the Pathways and Standards and to enable participants to contribute local areas or agencies’ baseline self-evaluation and plans for improvement. CYCJ can facilitate this session or share resources to support delivery.
- A website co-designed with young people which includes information the Pathway and Standards; quotes on why these Standards matter to children and young people; associated legislation, policy and guidance; and illustrative links to the Health and Social Care Standards and How good is our school? Quality Indicators. This resource will continue to be updated so please share any feedback or questions.
Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to discuss collaborative working opportunities.
Related blogs and resources on the Standards
Secure Care Pathway and Standards: Coproduction process and implementation
plans: Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care
STARR is Scotland’s only curated space for secure care experienced children, young people and adults. They are there to help inform, advise, challenge and change the pathways into, during and after secure care. Find out more. Contact email@example.com.
Secure Care in Scotland – background
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.
Related reports and documents
Secure Care Practice Development at CYCJ (2019 onwards)
Debbie Nolan, Practice Development Advisor with CYCJ, has continued 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 has fed into the Secure Care Group that was 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.
Statutory Duties in Secure Accommodation: Unlocking Children’s Rights (Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, June 2021)
Blogs and Information Sheets