3.2.6 Placements in Secure Accommodation

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to the placements of Looked After children in secure accommodation on welfare grounds.

See also Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure which deals with remands to Youth Detention Accommodation (which includes secure children's homes, secure training centres and Young Offender Institutions) in criminal proceedings.

RELATED CHAPTER

Secure Accommodation (Criteria) Reviews Procedure

RELATED GUIDANCE

Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities on Court Orders and Pre-Proceedings (2014)

DfE, Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations – Volume 5: children’s homes – Statutory Guidance for local authorities, 2013 (chapter 4)

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in March 2018, Placements in Scotland: Schedule 1, Children and Social Work Act 2017 which came into force in May 2017, now enables local authorities to make placements in Secure Accommodation placements in Scotland. (See Section 4, Planned Placements).


Contents

  1. Assessments and Legal Criteria
  2. Consultations and Planning
  3. Emergency Placements
  4. Planned Placements
  5. Notifications
  6. Health Care and Education
  7. Renewal of Orders
  8. Support, Monitoring and Ending Placements


1. Assessments and Legal Criteria

1.1 Placements on Welfare Grounds

Section 25 of the Children Act 1989 sets out the ‘welfare’ criteria which must be met before a child Looked After by the local authority may be placed in secure accommodation. 

The ‘Welfare’ criteria are:

  • That the child has a history of Absconding and is likely to abscond from any other description of accommodation; and
  • If the child absconds, s/he is likely to suffer Significant Harm; or that
  • If the child is kept in any other description of accommodation s/he is likely to injure her/himself or others.

The use of secure accommodation should be for the minimum period necessary, following an assessment of likely risk to the child, others and public safety.

A child must not continue to have his/her liberty restricted once the criteria cease to apply, even if there is a Court Order currently in existence.

Designated Manager (Secure Accommodation Placement) can approve such placements for up to 72 hours in an emergency. Only a Court can grant permission for placements beyond 72 hours.

A Looked After child meeting the above criteria may be placed in secure accommodation for a maximum period of 72 hours in any 28 day period, without Court authority (except where the 72 hour period expires on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, when the period can be extended to the next working day).

A Court may authorise a child to be kept in secure accommodation for a maximum period of:

  • 3 months on the first application to the Court;
  • 6 months on subsequent applications to the Court.

A Looked After child may not be placed in secure accommodation when:

  • They are under 13, unless the Secretary of State gives prior specific approval (see Section 1.2, Children under 13);
  • They are over 16 and have asked to be accommodated;
  • Accommodation would be or is being provided on a voluntary basis and a Parent objects to a secure placement.

1.2 Children Under 13

If consideration is given to placing a child under 13, the Secretary of State must give approval - see the guidance issued by the Department for Education.

See Also: Secure Children’s Homes: how to place a child aged under 13.


2. Consultations and Planning

In considering the need for a secure placement, the following should be undertaken:

It may be appropriate to convene a Professionals Meeting to assist in this process. 

If there appear to be grounds for a Secure Accommodation Order, the Designated Manager (Placements Secure Accommodation) should be consulted for a decision in principle or for authorisation if an Emergency Placement seems appropriate. Any authorisation should be put in writing, with any conditions.


3. Emergency Placements

In an Emergency, where it is not possible to seek a Secure Accommodation Order, the Designated Manager (Placements Secure Accommodation) may authorise placements for up to 72 hours. 

Note: A placement of a child under the age of 13 years can only be made with the approval of the Secretary of State.

In coming to a decision, the Designated Manager should establish whether the child meets the criteria for a Secure Accommodation Order and the outcome of any legal advice sought. If necessary, further legal advice should be sought by the Designated Manager. Any authorisation should be put in writing, with any conditions.

The social worker should take all reasonable steps to consult the child, parent(s) and others in drawing up a Care Plan and Placement Plans. As a minimum, Placement Plan Part 1 must be completed with copies given to the child and parent(s) and secure unit provider if a placement is made.

Unless agreed by the social worker and set out in the Placement Plan, no contact may be permitted between the child and parents or siblings. 

If the child is placed, the social worker must liaise with the secure unit provider and convene an Emergency Placement Planning Meeting as soon as practicable, but within 48 hours, to consider the following (A legal advisor should be invited to attend this meeting or should be consulted before it is convened):

  • Whether the child is appropriately placed, taking account of the needs of the referred child and the other children placed in the secure unit;
  • The need to apply for a Secure Accommodation Order to enable the child to be placed beyond 72 hours; if such an application is made, consideration should be given to the arrangements for the application/court hearing;
  • The need to consult on and draw up a Care Plan, Placement Plan/Placement Information Record, Personal Education Plan and Health Plan.

The social worker must also ensure the following:

  • That the child is provided with information on using this authority’s Complaints Procedure;
  • That various notifications are undertaken, as required in Section 5, Notifications.


4. Planned Placements

Having undertaken the consultations and planning outlined in Section 2, Consultation and Planning, it will be necessary to identify suitable placements, and consult providers to establish information about their placements or admissions procedures. If possible, arrangements should be made for the child, parent(s) and other significant people (e.g. carers) to visit placements and undertake placement planning. 

The social worker must ensure an up to date Care Plan and other relevant plans are given to the placement provider, child, parent(s) and others; as required by Decision to Look After a Child Procedure.

Unless agreed by the social worker and set out in the Placement Plan, no contact may be permitted between the child and parents or siblings. 

The Effective Placements Officer and Designated Manager (Placements Secure Accommodation) should be updated on the finding and arranging of a placement and necessary applications for a Secure Accommodation Order.

Legal advice should be sought on the making of an application for a Secure Accommodation Order and arrangements should be made as necessary.

Arrangements for the placement of the child should be made with the placement provider, including the need for assistance with transporting the child to the secure unit.

The social worker must also ensure the following:

  • That the child is provided with information on using this authority’s Complaints Procedure;
  • That various notifications are undertaken, as required in Section 5, Notifications.

Note: Placements in Scotland: Schedule 1, Children and Social Work Act 2017 which came into force in May 2017, now enables local authorities to make placements in Secure accommodation under Section 25 (1989 Children Act) by amending: the Children Act 1989; the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 and Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 (Consequential and Transitional Provisions, etc.) 2013; The Children (Secure Accommodation) Regulations 1991; Secure Accommodation (Scotland) Regulations 2013 and Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.

The issue of restrictions to local authority support for children living abroad (Schedule 2, Children Act 1989) no longer apply to a child placed in secure accommodation in Scotland under Section 25.


5. Notifications

When the child is placed or as soon as possible thereafter, a copy of the Secure Accommodation Order, or written authorisation of the Designated Manager (Placements Secure Accommodation), must be forwarded to the Secure Unit.

Notification of the placement must be sent, in writing, to all those consulted and involved in the decision-making process. 

If not consulted during the decision making process, the social worker must also notify the appropriate Health Trust, Local Education Authority and Children's Services Department in the area where the child is placed. These notifications must be made in writing advising of the placement decision and the name and address of the person with whom the child is to be placed.

See Local Contact Details.


6. Health Care and Education

It will be necessary for the social worker to ensure the child is registered with a GP, Dentist and Optician within a week of the placement, either retaining practices known to them or in the area where they are placed. See General Practitioners, Opticians and Dentists Procedure.

It will also be necessary to arrange a Health Care Assessment; see Health Care Assessments and Health Plans Procedure for these procedures.

Suitable arrangements should be put in place to review or draw up a Personal Education Plan for the child.


7. Renewal of Orders

If it appears that the Secure Accommodation Order should be renewed, the Designated Manager (Placements Secure Accommodation) should be consulted, and legal advice sought. 

The Secure Unit where the child is placed should also be consulted and, should the order be renewed, a copy must be forwarded to the unit.


8. Support, Monitoring and Ending of Placements

8.1 Social Worker Visits

The child’s social worker must visit the child in the placement within one week of the placement and then at specified intervals; see procedures in Social Worker Visits to Looked After Children Procedure.

8.2 Placement Planning Meetings

After the child is placed, the social worker should arrange a Placement Planning Meeting. Normally this should occur within 7 days of the placement starting. However, if the child was placed without a Court Order (see Section 3, Emergency Placements), an Emergency Placement Planning Meeting must be convened within 48 hours.

One of the key matters which must be considered in Placement Planning Meetings is that an Exit Plan is formulated for the child. Ensuring that there is continuity of care, education and, where appropriate, access to professional (e.g. psychiatric) support when the child leaves secure accommodation.

See Placement Planning Meetings Procedure

8.3 Secure Accommodation Criteria Reviews

Within a month of the placement and then at specified intervals, it will be necessary to convene Secure Accommodation Criteria Reviews to establish whether the legal criteria for the placement of the child in secure accommodation still apply. 

See Secure Accommodation Criteria Reviews Procedure

End