Secure Accommodation (Criteria Reviews)
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure applies to children placed in Secure Accommodation under Section 25 of The Children Act 1989 (Welfare Grounds). The purpose of Secure Accommodation (Criteria) Reviews is solely to consider whether the criteria for keeping a child in secure accommodation continue to apply, whether such a placement continues to be necessary and whether or not any other form of accommodation would be appropriate.
Guidance is provided in Secure Accommodation Reviews Guidance.
AMENDMENTThis chapter was reviewed and updated in March 2020. The requirement for clear separation of reviews (for clarifying whether the criteria for keeping a child in secure accommodation are met, and the child's looked after review) has been emphasised. Clarifying whether the criteria for keeping a child in secure accommodation are met must come before a LAC review so the decision can inform the LAC review and they must be chaired by different individuals.
1. Purpose of Secure Accommodation Reviews
The Purpose of a Secure Accommodation Review is to consider the following:
- Whether the criteria for keeping a child in secure accommodation continue to apply, on the day of the review;
- Whether such a placement continues to be necessary; and
- Whether or not any other form of accommodation would be appropriate.
There are separate and different processes for reviewing a young person's case if they are remanded to secure accommodation by the courts or detained under the Mental Health Act.
2. Timing of Secure Accommodation Reviews
Secure Accommodation Reviews must be convened within 1 month of a child being placed in secure accommodation, and then held at intervals not exceeding 3 months.
3. Chairing of Secure Accommodation Reviews
Reviews will be conducted by Secure Accommodation Review Panels chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) who is not the current reviewing officer/chair for the child's Looked After Review.
4. Secure Accommodation Review Panel
The Secure Accommodation Panel is responsible for listening to the views of those who attend/contribute, and coming to a decision about whether they believe the criteria for secure accommodation are still met. The Panel cannot come to a decision about whether the child should remain or leave secure accommodation; it can only make a recommendation on this to the Designated Manager (Secure Accommodation Criteria Reviews).
The Panel consists of three people: a Team Manager or Service manager who is independent of the line management of the case, the Independent Reviewing Officer (who will Chair the review) and a representative from the an independent advocacy service, for example Voice or a similar independent advocacy service.
5. Arranging a Secure Accommodation Panel
Within 3 days of a child being placed in secure accommodation, the social worker must notify the Independent Reviewing Officer by telephone or email of the placement The social worker will be responsible for organising a date for the initial Secure Accommodation Review in consultation with the Independent Reviewing Officer and the secure unit.
The Independent Reviewing Officer appointed to chair the Review Panel will convene the Panel.
The Review Panel will meet at the relevant secure unit.
The Secure Accommodation Review is separate to a Looked After Review and is not a substitute for it. It must be held first, so the recommendations and subsequent decisions made can inform the Looked After Review.
Apart from those who form the Secure Accommodation Panel, the following people should be invited:
- The child and parent(s);
- The child's social worker and line manager;
- Those who previously have had or may have care of the child upon discharge;
- The children's Guardian;
- The child's Independent Visitor or Advocate, if appointed;
- The Link/Keyworker for the child from the Secure Unit.
7. Preparation for Secure Accommodation Reviews
Prior to the Secure Accommodation Review, the Chairperson (Independent Reviewing Officer) will liaise with the social worker to ensure the following is undertaken:
- Invitations are extended to those who should be invited (other than the Panel members); or that they are asked to contribute;
- The child and parent(s) are clear about the purpose of the Secure Accommodation Review and are given adequate support to prepare for it; which may include arranging for an independent person to assist them. The social worker must also ensure that LAC Consultation papers are given to the child and parents as appropriate and, after completion, are available for the Review;
- The social worker has prepared an up to date Care Plan and report for the review, and ensures that the child's Placement Plan is available for the review;
- The social worker will prepare a report for the review outlining why the child was originally placed in secure accommodation, demonstrating that the criteria were met at that time, and the extent to which it is felt the criteria still apply, whether the child should continue to remain in secure accommodation and whether any other description of accommodation would be appropriate;
- Arrangements have been made for the staff in the secure placement to prepare a report, taking account of the progress made with the child and stating their view as to whether the criteria still apply and whether any other description of accommodation would be appropriate rather than remaining in secure accommodation.
The child's file, together with the Care Plan, Placement Plan and reports, must be forwarded to the Independent Reviewing Officer by the social worker at least 3 working days before the Review date.
8. Conducting the Secure Accommodation Review
The Secure Accommodation Review does not take the place of a Looked After or other review; it is distinctly different. However, it is acceptable to conduct the Secure Accommodation Review on the same day as other reviews, so long as they are conducted separately.
The Review can be conducted in one of two ways:
- Model 1: in the form of a meeting which everyone attends and may hear the views of the other participants;
- Model 2: in the form of the Panel hearing the views of each person, separately.
Guidance on conducting these models is contained in Secure Accommodation Reviews Guidance.
In any case, the Chairperson must ensure that those who contribute understand the purpose of the Review; which is to consider whether the criteria for keeping a child in secure accommodation continue to apply, on the day of the review.
The Secure Accommodation Panel is responsible for listening to the views of those who attend/contribute, and coming to a decision about whether they believe the criteria are met. Before the review, the Voice panel member should meet with the child. The secure unit needs to be made aware of this by the social worker, so that they can facilitate the meeting.
The key questions that must be considered are:
- Whether the criteria continue to apply on the day of the review, and even if they do;
- Whether the placement in secure accommodation continues to be necessary;
- Whether any other description of accommodation would be appropriate.
In considering these matters the Panel must have regard to the child's welfare.
Evidence that the criteria was sufficiently met, originally to place the child in secure accommodation is valid; however, where it is proposed that the child remain in secure accommodation, the social worker and secure unit staff must be able to demonstrate that the criteria still apply and that no other description of accommodation would be appropriate, even if the criteria apply.
It is not sufficient simply to retain a child in secure accommodation to complete an assessment or treatment programme or whilst other accommodation is sought. Regard must be given to the fact that it is unlawful for the liberty of a child to be restricted unless the criteria are met, no matter how short the period of security.
Having given due regard to the views and contributions of those who attend or were invited, the Secure Accommodation Panel should retire to consider their decision, in private.
Once the Panel has made a recommendation, it should be recorded, together with reasons, and communicated to the other participants at the Review.
If the panel recommends that the criteria are not met, this must immediately be reviewed by the Team Manager with the Designated Manager (Secure Accommodation) and a decision made about whether to accept the recommendation. If the recommendation that the criteria are not met is accepted, it will be necessary to consider the need for an alternative placement. Legal advice should be sought in coming to this decision. The child must remain in the Secure Accommodation during this process.
There is no formal right of appeal against the Panel recommendation or any decision that the authority may come to, but the child, or someone on his/her behalf, can make a Complaint or can seek their own legal advice.
Where relevant, a date for the next Review Panel should also be fixed.
If the child requests further explanation, the Chairperson and/or social worker should see them immediately after the Review in order to provide this.
9. Following the Review
If the parents are not in attendance, the social worker must take steps to inform them immediately of the outcome of the meeting.
The minutes should be written up and circulated within a week of the review. They need to contain a specific statement confirming or not that the criteria were met. They must be signed by the chair of the panel and the social worker's manager. They must be circulated (translated where necessary) to all those invited to the meeting, including the child.
The social worker and their team manager are responsible for implementing and stating their reasons for any action or inaction in response to the decisions.
If the recommendation of the panel is that the criteria no longer apply, this must immediately be reviewed by the Team Manager with the Designated Manager (Secure Accommodation) and a decision made about whether to accept the recommendation. Legal advice should be sought in coming to this decision.
There is no formal right of appeal against the Panel recommendation or any decision that the authority may come to, but the child, or someone on their behalf, can make a Complaint or can seek their own legal advice.