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Secure Care

Scotland’s secure care provision consists of 90 beds in 5 separate settings. The units are owned and operated by 5 providers, 4 of whom are independent charitable organisations, Kibble (Paisley), Rossie (nr Montrose), St Mary’s, Kenmure (Bishopbriggs) and The Good Shepherd (Bishopton) who provide beds under the Secure Care Contract. Scotland Excel manages the contract for the provision of secure care on behalf of all purchasers (local authorities for welfare and remand beds and Scottish Government for sentenced beds). The other unit is not part of the contract and is run by the City of Edinburgh Council.

What is secure care?

Secure care restricts the liberty of the children under the age of 18 placed in their care. The children / young people can be placed through the Children’s Hearings Scotland or the Courts.

Secure accommodation is a form of residential care for the very small number of children whose needs and risks, for a particular period in their lives, can only be managed in the controlled settings of secure care. Such children have been deemed to be a significant risk to themselves or others in the community.

Secure care provides intensive support and safe boundaries that enable these highly vulnerable children to re-engage and move forward positively in their communities.  Secure care provides a nurturing environment that is able to address specific needs whilst providing care, including health and education where the learning follows the Curriculum for Excellence.

The Head of Unit

The Head of Unit will be the Named Person for all the young people in their care. The Head must ensure their unit complies with all the relevant Laws and fully considers the guidance that is applicable to secure services.

Placing a Young Person in Secure

If a children’s hearing makes a relevant order which contains a secure accommodation authorisation (SAA), it is the Chief Social Work Officer (CSWO) who decides whether or not to implement the SAA.

A CSWO cannot implement an SAA without the consent of the Head of Unit (section 151 of the 2011 Act). If the Head of Unit refuses consent, the CSWO must notify the Principal Reporter so that a hearing can be arranged to review the relevant order (regulation 8 of the 2013 Regulations).

The Children’s Hearing (Scotland) Act 2011 (Implementation of Secure Accommodation Authorisation) (Scotland) Regulations 2013, details the decision that the Head of Unit must make when the Chief Social Work Officer has decided to implement a secure accommodation authorisation.

The court can also place young people in secure care on remand or sentence using the Criminal Procedures (Scotland) Act 1995


The Purchaser (LA’s or the Scottish Government) is responsible for planning the intended outcomes for the young person when they are placed in secure care using the appropriate care planning route, e.g. Child’s Plan. When a young person is placed in secure care using the secure care contract the purchaser should complete an Individual Placement Agreement (IPA). If the IPA is not completed there is no binding contract in place.

The IPA should detail the identified outcomes based on the SHANARRI (safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible, included) wellbeing indicators and request appropriate interventions to help achieve the best outcomes for each individual young person.

When considering the intended outcomes of the secure placement local authorities and providers should where possible take account of the child, their Parents, Relevant Person, and other professional’s views.

Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) is the national approach in Scotland to improving outcomes and supporting the wellbeing of our children and young people by offering the right help at the right time from the right people. The secure units use the SHANARRI wellbeing indicators to evidence the progress of each individual young person during their placement in secure care. Information is gathered at regular intervals from the young person, practitioners, lead professional and where appropriate the young person’s parents. That information enables the units to measure the young person’s progress.


In safeguarding the Child or Young Person each Provider of secure care has a set of policies and procedures which cover the delivery of the Service and meets the requirement of the Care Inspectorate, other regulatory bodies as appropriate and Councils as the lead bodies for Child Protection issues.

These policies and procedures should include, but not be limited to:

Child Protection and Safeguarding
Promoting Positive Behaviour
Managing Challenging Behaviour
Holding Safely
Drugs and Alcohol policy
No smoking Policy
Methods of Care and Control in compliance with the Holding Safely Guidelines
Sanctions and consequences
Administration of Medication
Confidentiality and Data Protection
Children’s and Young People’s Rights
Participation strategy
Anti-discriminatory Practice
Promoting Children and Young People’s Rights to be Safe, Well-Cared for and Listened to
Independent Advocacy for the Child or Young Person
Unauthorised absence of a Child or Young Person – relevant policies, procedures, protocols
Record Keeping and Information Policy
Complaints Procedures
Complaints Register
Service User Agreement
Risk assessment and risk management
Single separation and segregation

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