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5.1.12 Placements in Secure Accommodation

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This Chapter sets out the procedures to be followed for ‘Welfare’ placements in Secure Accommodation.

Note: Whenever a court refuses bail to a child/young person (aged 10-17), the court is required to remand the child to local authority accommodation unless certain conditions are met, in which case the court may instead remand the child to Youth Detention Accommodation. Every such child (whether remanded to Youth Detention Accommodation or to local authority accommodation) will now be treated as Looked After by their designated local authority (See Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation).

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

DfE, Secure children’s homes: how to place a child aged under 13 (2015)

DfE Court Proceedings and Pre-proceedings for local authorities, (April 2014)

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Secure Accommodation (Criteria) Reviews Procedure

AMENDMENT

In May 2017 a note was added in respect of Secure Accommodation - Placements in Scotland: Schedule 1, Children and Social Work Act 2017, with immediate effect, now enables local authorities to make placements in Secure accommodation under Sect 25 (Children Act 1989). (See Section 2, Consultation and Planning).


Contents

  1. Legal Criteria
  2. Consultation and Planning
  3. Emergency Placements
  4. Planned Placements
  5. Renewal of Orders
  6. Secure Placements for Children Under 13


1. Legal Criteria

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 (see note below) 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.

It is unlawful to restrict a child’s liberty unless one of these criteria is met, no matter how short the period of security.

The Assistant Director (Health, Safeguarding and Care) may approve such placements for up to 72 hours in an emergency. Only a Court can grant permission for placements beyond 72 hours.

Arrangements to seek secure accommodation are often at very short notice; difficulties can arise when the 72-hour period expires either late on a Saturday, Sunday or Bank holiday.

To help local authorities, there is a relaxation of the legislation provided by further secure accommodation regulations. This dictates that where a child is placed in secure accommodation between;

12 midday on the day before and 12 midday on the day after a public holiday or Saturday and

a) during that period that the maximum period of 72-hours expires, and

b) in the 27 days before the day on which he/she was placed and kept in secure accommodation for an aggregate of more than 48 hours.

The maximum period (72-hours) shall be treated as if it did not expire until 12 midday on the first working day after the public holiday or Sunday.

A placement of a child under the age of 13 years can only be made with the approval of the Secretary of State (see Section 6, Secure Placements for Children under 13)

If it appears that a child should be placed in Secure Accommodation, the Social Worker must consult his/her Pod Team Manager who will consult the Head of Service to agree whether the use of Secure Accommodation needs to be considered.

Advice from Legal Services must be obtained regarding the criteria for secure accommodation and the seeking of an Order.


2. Consultation and Planning

Social Workers should familiarise themselves with the legislation relating to secure accommodation. Care should be taken to demonstrate how admission to secure accommodation fits into the overall child care plan.

Whilst a large number of young people looked after will occasionally meet the criteria for secure accommodation at some point in their lives there should never be an assumption that it will automatically follow a series of other (often failed) placements.

See Section 3, Emergency Placements.

Decision to place in Secure Accommodation

Decision to place in secure accommodation/apply for Secure Accommodation Order (SAO) rests with:

Assistant Director Health, Safeguarding & Care

Process:

Multi agency planning meeting must be convened before placing a child in emergency secure accommodation or making an application for a SAO.

Meeting should be chaired by Assistant Director (HSC) (delegated to Head of Service in their absence).

Multi agency planning meeting should be attended by the following:

  • IRO/CP Chair for child;
  • Social Worker & Practice Manager;
  • Legal representative;
  • Head of Service;
  • Agency Placement Team representative;
  • School representative;
  • Health representative;
  • Other professionals involved (e.g. Police) with child as appropriate.

Views of the child and parents/carers should be available to the meeting.

The social worker should provide the meeting with the child’s updated care plan. This must include a comprehensive analysis of the risk the child poses to themselves/others and the steps that will be taken whilst the child is in secure accommodation, to address such risks. The social worker should also provide the meeting with a detailed draft exit plan from secure, which acknowledges the identified risks and identifies what services/placement are required to mitigate these. 

If there appear to be grounds for a Secure Accommodation Order, the Assistant Director should be consulted for a decision in principle or for authorisation of a placement up to 72 hours, if an Emergency Placement seems appropriate (see Section 3, Emergency Placements). Any decision/authorisation should be put in writing, with any conditions.

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 Sect 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.


3. Emergency Placements

It is the responsibility of the Agency Placements Team to find an appropriate secure placement. The Agency Placements Manager should be alerted to the likely need for a secure placement and the social worker should complete the referral in the usual way.

In an Emergency, where it is not possible to seek a Secure Accommodation Order, the Assistant Director may authorise placements for up to 72 hours.

In coming to a decision, the Assistant Director should establish whether the child meets the criteria for a Secure Accommodation Order and the outcome of any legal advice sought. If necessary, the Assistant Director  should seek further advice from Legal Services.

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 Plan/Placement Information Record.

Contact arrangements should be set out in the Placement Information Record.

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 advisor from Legal Services 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 (PEP) and Health Care Plan.

The Social Worker must also ensure the arrangements set out in Post Placement Arrangements Procedures are followed.


4. Planned Placements

It is the responsibility of  the Agency Placements Team to find an appropriate secure placement.   The social worker should make a placement referral in the usual way.

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 Post Placement Arrangements Procedures. Contact arrangements should be set out in the Placement Information Record.

The Assistant Director should be updated on the finding and arranging of a placement and necessary applications for a Secure Accommodation Order.

Advice from Legal Services 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 arrangements set out in Post Placement Arrangements Procedures are followed and that a Secure Accommodation Criteria Review is planned within a month of the placement and then at specified intervals: see Secure Accommodation (Criteria) Reviews Procedure.


5. Renewal of Orders

If it appears that the Secure Accommodation Order should be renewed, the Assistant Director 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.


6. Secure Placements for Children Under 13

(See also DfE, Secure children’s homes: how to place a child aged under 13 (2015)).

A placement of a child under the age of 13 years can only be made with the approval of the Secretary of State. This summarises the procedures for obtaining approval.

1. A local authority wishing to place a child under the age of 13 in a secure children’s Home where the Secretary of State’s approval is required should first discuss the case with the DfE Looked After Children Division. Some initial information will be taken over the phone, such as the name and date of birth of the child concerned, and written documentation will be requested. This should be submitted without delay, where possible, by Email.
2. This written documentation will include the following;
  1. A full written history/chronology of the child and whether the child is with the local authority or absent;
  2. A View of the likelihood that a Court would find that the criteria for restriction of liberty are satisfied and an indication of when the local authority is intending to go to Court to obtain a secure order;
  3. An explanation of why secure accommodation is the only appropriate method of dealing with the child and whether a bed in a secure children’s Home has been secured;
  4. An indication of the alternatives to secure that have been considered and why these have been rejected;
  5. The aims and objectives of the secure placement;
  6. A copy of a contemporary care plan which includes a prospective exit strategy from secure care; and
  7. Agreement in writing – from the Assistant Director – to seek the Secretary of State’s approval.
3. The DfE will discuss this information with the appropriate Regulatory Authority, who will make a recommendation as to whether the Secretary of State’s approval should be given.
4. DfE will then consider and advise the local authority of the Secretary of State’s decision.
5. Local authorities should ensure that, in order to expedite early decisions, applications for the Secretary of State’s approval are made during office hours. However, where in exceptional circumstances this is not possible, the local authority should telephone the DfE out of hours and ask for the DfE Looked After Children Division.

End