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11.2.10 Secure Accommodation – Application, Admission & Reviews

AMENDMENT

In January 2022, Section 4, Procedure for an Initial Secure Placement was rewritten and needs to be reread.


Contents

  1. What is Secure Accommodation?
  2. Admission under Section 25 (Welfare Grounds)
  3. Placements Under the 72-hour Rule
  4. Procedure for an Initial Secure Placement
  5. Finance
  6. Reviewing Placements in Secure Accommodation (SAR)
  7. Secure Accommodation Reviews (SAR) - Procedure
  8. Permissive Order / Legal Requirements
  9. Placement Planning

    Appendix 1: How to Convene an Initial Secure Accommodation Panel

    Appendix 2: How to Convene a Secure Accommodation Review

    Appendix 3: Letter to Independent Panel Member

    Appendix 4: Report to Panel and Referral to Providers

    Appendix 5: Letter to Authorise Secure Accommodation

    Appendix 6: Initial Secure Panel Agenda

    Appendix 7: Letter for Secure Accommodation Review Meeting

    Appendix 8: Letter for Secure Accommodation Review

    Appendix 9: Secure Accommodation Review Meeting

    Appendix 10: Secure Accommodation Review Panel Agenda

    Appendix 11: Secure Accommodation Review Attendance List

    Appendix 12: Minutes of Meeting

    Appendix 13: Letter to Chair Secure Accommodation Review

    Appendix 14: Referral for S25 Placement


1. What is Secure Accommodation?

Secure accommodation is a children’s home governed by The Department of Education for the purposes of restricting young people’s liberty. There are two main routes into secure accommodation.

Young people may be placed in secure accommodation either because of criminal activity (referred to as; ‘the criminal route’) or on welfare grounds (referred to as; ‘the welfare route’).


2. Admission under Section 25 (Welfare Grounds)

Section 25 of The Children Act 1989 sets out the criteria which must be met before a young person can be placed in secure accommodation on ‘welfare grounds’.

It provides that a young person being looked after by the local authority may not be placed, and if placed, may not be kept in secure accommodation unless it appears:

  1. That he / she has a history of absconding and is likely to abscond from anything other than secure accommodation:

    and
  2. If he / she absconds he/she is likely to suffer significant harm (Section 25(1)(a));

    or
  3. If he / she is kept in anything other than secure accommodation he / she is likely to injure himself / herself or other persons (section 25 (1)(b)).

A young person under the age of 13 can only be detained in secure accommodation with the approval of The Secretary of State.

A young person who is placed in secure accommodation on ‘welfare grounds’ is deemed ‘looked after’ and therefore must be either; subject to an interim care order / full care order under Section 31 of The Children Act 1989, or for a young person under 16, parental consent under Section 20 of The Children Act 1989 must be obtained.

Where an application is made to place a young person who has attained the age of sixteen and who is accommodated under Section 20, an interim care order must be applied for first to support the secure application.


3. Placements Under the 72-hour Rule

A young person can be placed in secure accommodation for up to 72 hours consecutively, without a court order. The young person must be released at the end of the 72 hours unless a court order has been obtained during that period.

This provision is eased when the 72 hour period expires late on a Saturday or Sunday or public holiday. Where a young person is placed in secure accommodation at any time between 12 midday on the day before and 12 midday on the day after a public holiday or Sunday and if:

  • During that period, the maximum period of 72 hours expires; and
  • In the 27 days before he or she was placed, he or she was kept in secure accommodation for an aggregate of more than 48 hours, then the maximum period of 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;
  • This provision is intended to cater for an emergency placement of a young person at a time when both the major proportion of the 72 hours has already been used up and it is unlikely to be possible to arrange for an application in court before the 72 hours limit expires.

The 72 hour placement must be approved by the Children’s Social Care service director. A letter signed by the director must be obtained and a copy given to the secure unit before a young person will be admitted. A copy of the legal status, i.e. consent to accommodation under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 or a care order (or interim care order) under Section 31 of the Children Act 1989 and, where relevant – the written approval of The Secretary of State (under 13’s) is also required by the secure unit prior to admission.

In the absence of the Children’s Social Care service director, authorisation must be sought from the corporate director.

When a placement is required in an emergency – under the 72-hour rule, a secure panel should be convened to ensure that the criteria for secure accommodation is met. This is not a statutory requirement, but is required as part of the procedure within Nottinghamshire to ensure that a young person’s liberty is not restricted without good cause.


4. Procedure for an Initial Secure Placement

In Nottinghamshire, a strength-based approach has been adopted with the establishment of an independent panel to consider applications to secure accommodation (see Section 3, Placements Under the 72-hour Rule above). This is reflected within the agenda, social work report and record of the meeting.

Any potential request for secure accommodation should be discussed with the children's service manager and group manager with case responsibility.

The group manager with case responsibility will record their decision and reason for their decision on Mosaic.

If agreed the relevant service manager approaches the placements and commissioning service manager to discuss the individual child's needs and whether an alternative placement can be identified that would address the risks to the child and if not then to request the convening of a secure accommodation panel

The Notifications team will arrange the panel using the rota of group manager chairs.

In convening a panel, the service manager (placements & commissioning) will have due regard to the composition of the panel and the needs of the young person in relation to gender, race, disability or culture.

The panel will consist of:

  • An independent group manager (without line management responsibility for the case) will chair the meeting;
  • An independent service manager (without line management responsibility for the case) as a panel member;
  • The service manager (placements & commissioning) – will provide advice only;
  • A representative from legal services;
  • An independent person is not required at the initial panel but if possible would attend;
  • The Notifications team will make a written record of the meeting, which will be agreed by the chair within 5 working days and uploaded on to Mosaic.

The panel may be held virtually with the use of technology where appropriate.

Prior to the panel the social worker should complete the referral for a secure children's homes placement. The chair will refer to this as the social worker's report.

When attending the panel the social worker is expected to provide the following information verbally:

  • The child's name, address, date of birth, ethnicity, school and names of those with Parental Responsibility
  • Support Network
  • Reason for requesting Secure Accommodation Panel – what has brought us here today?
  • What is the evidence that the criteria has been met
  • What alternatives have been tried and considered to keep the child/young person safe? What were the outcomes?
  • What needs to happen now? What are the aims of the proposed secure placement?
  • What would be the safe outcomes for the child/YP?
  • Child's wishes and feelings
  • Parent's views
  • Chronology of incidents of absconding and harm to self and others during the last 6 months

The panel agenda will consider the following:

  • What has brought us here today?
  • What is the evidence that the criteria has been met?
  • What alternatives have been tried and considered to keep the child/young person safe? What were the outcomes?
  • What needs to happen now? What are the aims of the proposed secure placement?
  • What would be the safe outcomes for the child/YP?
  • Child's wishes and feelings
  • Parent's views
  • Legal Advice
  • Decision
  • Reason for decision
  • Plan
  • If this doesn't work then what will we do?

Following the panel, the group manager who chairs the meeting will advise the service director or their agreed cover of the panel's:

  • Recommended Decision
  • Reason for decision
  • Plan
  • If this doesn't work then what will we do?
  • Dissenting views

The service director or their agreed cover will only approve a request to place a child in secure accommodation where the following have been considered at the panel:

  • The criteria for secure placements as set out in are met;
  • Secure accommodation is the only appropriate method of dealing with the child;
  • Alternatives have been comprehensively considered and rejected;
  • There is a clear view of the aims and objectives of such a placement.

The service director or their agreed cover will record their decision and reason for their decision on Mosaic.

The social worker will be responsible for:

  • Completing the placement request form if a dual search for a residential is agreed alongside a secure provision. The placements team will seek to obtain a secure placement using the secure documentation (if possible, the placements team should be given advance notice).

If a vacancy exists at Clayfields House then this would need to be ruled out as an option by the placements and commissioning service manager prior to any other secure unit option being pursued.

Once the young person is placed, the social worker is responsible for ensuring the Mosaic case notes are updated.

The legal adviser will consider the necessary process with regard to any application to the court for a secure accommodation order and/or application for an interim care order.

Secure children’s homes: how to place a child aged under 13

The following guidance relates to a secure order being sought for a child/young person under the age of 13 years, provided by the DfE in the steps to be followed to get the Secretary of State’s approval:

Phone the DfE children in care team

Make sure you have the following information when you call:

  • The name and date of birth of the child you wish to place in a SCH;
  • The reasons why you want to place them in a SCH;
  • Confirmation of whether you have identified an available bed in a SCH;
  • Confirmation of whether the child is currently with you or whether they are missing from care;
  • Details of when you intend to go to court to seek a secure accommodation order for the child;
  • Details of the alternatives to a secure placement you have considered and why you think a secure placement is necessary;
  • Confirmation of whether you have approached the Secure Welfare Co-ordination Unit (SWCU) to submit your referral.

Children in care team

Office hours (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
Tel: 0207 783 8086
Mobile: 0738 452 0972

Out-of-hours helpline (weekends and Monday to Friday after 5pm):
Tel: 0207 340 7057

Email documentation to DfE

During your initial phone call we will give you a contact email address. After the call, you must email us the following documents:

  • A letter signed at assistant director level or above explaining why you are applying, which should include:
    • Confirmation that they have reviewed the application and in their view the Section 25 criteria are met;
    • Confirmation that they have taken advice from their legal department.
  • Case history and chronology including a:
    • Full case history recording interactions with social services;
    • Record of recent incidents, covering at least the last 3 months, which gives evidence of how the Section 25 criteria are met.
  • A detailed care plan that covers the period the child will be in secure accommodation, which as a minimum should include:
    • Confirmation that the Section 25 criteria are met;
    • The alternatives to a secure placement that have been tried or considered;
    • Explanation of why the local authority thinks a secure placement is the best option for the child;
    • What the aims of the secure placement are;
    • What the young person’s needs and challenges are and how these will be addressed during the secure placement, including expectations of the secure provider;
    • What the exit strategy is for the young person’s return back into the community or another placement;
    • Confirmation of the intended initial length of the secure accommodation order or placement;
    • A list of assessments, for example psychiatric, psychological or health, that have been or will be carried out during the secure placement;
    • Identification of any therapeutic provision that will be required;
    • The intended outcomes from the secure placement or preparation for transition.

The DfE will be unable to provide approval without receipt of all of these documents.

Outcome

The DfE will review the documentation you provide, assess your application and advise you of our decision as soon as possible. The DfE will provide a certificate via email to confirm that the Secretary of State approves the secure placement.

Out-of-hours applications

If you made your application outside office hours, the care duty officer may give you verbal approval on behalf of the Secretary of State. They will only do this if the placement meets the criteria in Section 25 of the Children Act 1989and is deemed appropriate.

You will have to provide approval from assistant director level or above and email the documents that support your application the following working day. Once the DfE have assessed the documents they will send you the certificate that confirms the Secretary of State’s approval.

Alternatively, the DfE will phone you if there are any issues with the application.

Secure placements under the 72-hour rule

Local authorities wishing to place a young person under 13 under the 72-hour rule require the prior approval of the Secretary of State.


5. Finance

The secure accommodation budget is managed by the service manager (placements & commissioning) and is used to purchase places at secure accommodation venues nationally.

All fees related to the placement are paid directly by the placements team.


6. Reviewing Placements in Secure Accommodation

There is a legal requirement to review the placements of young people in secure accommodation.

Regulation 15 of the secure accommodation regulations requires that the local authority hold the first secure accommodation review (SAR) within one month of the start of the placement and thereafter at intervals not exceeding three months. If the 72-hour provision is used and the court subsequently grants a secure accommodation order, the 28 days starts at the point of entry into secure accommodation, i.e. at the beginning of the 72 hours, not from the point of the secure accommodation order being made by the court.

The purpose of the review is to consider whether:

  • The criteria for keeping the young person in secure accommodation continue to apply; and
  • Such a placement continues to be necessary and whether or not other forms of accommodation would be appropriate. The panel must have regard to the welfare of the young person

Secure accommodation reviews (SAR), sometimes called ‘criteria reviews’, should not be confused with looked after statutory reviews (LAC Reviews), which should be arranged separately.


7. Secure Accommodation Reviews (SAR) - Procedure

The secure review panel (SAR) will be convened by the service manager (placements & commissioning).

The secure review panel (SAR) should be carried out by a panel of at least three people.

At least one member of the panel must not be employed by or be a member of the local authority, which is responsible for looking after the young person (either the placing authority or the authority who is looking after the young person on behalf of the placing authority).

The other two panel members should not hold any case management responsibility for the young person. This may be a group manager and a children’s services manager.

Ideally, the panel should be chaired by the group manager who chaired the initial panel.

The social worker is responsible for submitting a report, in advance, to the panel, which provides an update and evidence of whether the criteria for secure accommodation continue to be met. The report should also outline the proposed plan.

The adults with Parental Responsibility for the young person must be invited to panel and all reports and information regarding the panel must be shared with them prior to the panel taking place.

The service manager (placements & commissioning) will attend to advise the panel but will not be asked to vote on whether the young person continues to meet the criteria.

Relevant reports from the secure unit, Children’s Social Care, Education, and any associated external professionals, must be provided at least three working days prior to the panel.

A representative from legal services will be invited to attend. If the legal representative cannot attend, legal advice should be available by telephone for the duration of the panel. Legal services must receive copies of all relevant reports prior to advice being sought.

A manager from the secure unit will be invited to the review to provide information about the young person’s progress.

The chair will have the casting vote if necessary.

The review panel should be held in the secure unit where the young person is placed so that they can take a full and active role in contributing to the panel discussion. The chair of the panel is responsible for ensuring that the young person is contacted to seek their views in advance, if they are not going to be present at the panel.

The panel will also take into account the views and feelings of:

  • Parents and other relevant family members;
  • The independent person;
  • The manager of the secure unit and other professionals.


8. Permissive Order / Legal Requirements

A secure accommodation order is a ‘permissive order’.

If a young person is considered, at any point within the period defined by the order, not to meet the eligibility criteria any longer, steps must be taken to facilitate the young person’s release. Planning for the young person’s move to an alternative placement must take place in a way that is least disruptive to the young person concerned. A care plan review chaired by the young person’s IRO must be convened immediately.

Where a young person is not subject to an interim care order or full care order the placement in secure accommodation must be supported by someone with parental responsibility. If at any time this consent is withdrawn, then the young person can leave secure accommodation unless the Authority acts to obtain parental responsibility. Any young person who at aged 16, is subject to Section 20 accommodation under The Children Act 1989 can also choose to leave secure accommodation. Therefore, legal advice on an ICO/CO is essential should either situation arise. It is always good practice to ensure those with parental responsibility are fully involved in the decision-making process.

On application for a secure order, the court could adjourn the case and make an interim order. This order can only be made where a court is not in a position to decide whether the criteria for secure accommodation has been met.

On the first application to court, the maximum period for which an order can be made is three months. In the case of further applications, the maximum period is six months.


9. Placement Planning

A secure children’s home (secure unit) is a specialist provision that offers care, education, assessment and therapeutic work to make a positive impact on the lives of young people to enable them to integrate back into their community. Restricting the liberty of young people is a serious step, which may be considered a 'last resort', used only when all other options have been considered and rejected, or as a positive option to help young people understand boundaries and consequences by providing assessment, treatment and support.

The aims and objectives of the placement should be clear at the outset of the placement. Clear timescales are essential to ensure that the young person remains in secure accommodation for only as long as is necessary.

The young person’s care plan should detail how the placement will meet all their individual needs and what, if any, specialist professional support they will need from either within the placement or from an external agency, in order that their identified needs are fully addressed.

At the outset of the placement, planning should consider where the young person would live when they leave secure accommodation to ensure continuity of care. Any exit strategy should include a risk assessment. A placement request form should be completed as soon as possible to ensure that an appropriate placement is identified at an early stage.


Appendices

Appendix 1: How to Convene an Initial Secure Accommodation Panel

Appendix 2: How to Convene a Secure Accommodation Review

Appendix 3: Letter to Independent Panel Member

Appendix 4: Report to Panel and Referral to Providers

Appendix 5: Letter to Authorise Secure Accommodation

Appendix 6: Initial Secure Panel Agenda

Appendix 7: Letter for Secure Accommodation Review Meeting

Appendix 8: Letter for Secure Accommodation Review

Appendix 9: Secure Accommodation Review Meeting

Appendix 10: Secure Accommodation Review Panel Agenda

Appendix 11: Secure Accommodation Review Attendance List

Appendix 12: Minutes of Meeting

Appendix 13: Letter to Chair Secure Accommodation Review

Appendix 14: Referral for S25 Placement

End