Skip to main content


View Working Together View Working Together

5.8 Children in Custody


With effect from 3 December 2012, young people who are not bailed and are dealt with by a court by way of a Remand to Local Authority Accommodation or a Remand to Youth Detention Accommodation are Looked After. This will include both children who were already Looked After, and those who become Looked After by virtue of the remand. For more information, see Liverpool Children's Services Procedures, Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.


For additional information, please see:

Healthy children, safer communities - a strategy to promote the health and well-being of children and young people in contact with the youth justice system. Department of Health and Social Care, Department for Children, Schools and Families, Ministry of Justice, Home Office, December 2009.

Ministry of Justice National Offender Management Service guidance on Care And Management Of Young People


See also: Children Living Away from Home Procedure.


This chapter was updated in March 2021 to reflect Working Together to Safeguard Children arrangements and expectations.

The following is taken from Working Together to Safeguard Children 2010 (Paragraphs 2.140-2.145) (now archived) and Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018:

The Children Act 1989 applies to children and young people in the secure estate and the local authority continues to have responsibilities towards them in the same way as they do for other children. Children who are refused bail and remanded become Looked After for the duration of their remand period. The Safeguarding Children Partnership will have oversight of the safeguarding arrangements within secure settings in their area.

In all cases, the local authority in which a secure youth establishment is located is responsible for the overall safety and welfare of the children in that establishment. Specific institutions in an area must ensure that there are links in place with the Safeguarding Children Partnership and local authorities.

Under the Legal Aid Sentencing & Punishing Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, whenever children under 18 are remanded to the care of the Local Authority they become ‘looked after’ for the period of their remand. Their home local authority must visit them at specified intervals and prepare a Detention Placement Plan (DPP). The DPP is reviewed in the same way as a Care Plan for a Looked After Child (see GOV.UK, Placing young people in custody: guide for youth justice practitioners).

Each centre holding those aged under 18 should have in place an annually-reviewed safeguarding children policy which promotes and safeguards the welfare of children, and covers all relevant operational areas as well as key supporting processes, which would include issues such as child protection, risk of harm, restraint, separation, staff recruitment and information sharing.

There are three types of secure accommodation in which a young person can be placed, which together make up the secure estate for children and young people:

  • Young Offender Institutions (YOI's) - YOI's are facilities run by both the Prison Service and the private sector and accommodate 15 - to 17-year-olds. Young people serving Detention and Training Orders can be accommodated beyond the age of 17 subject to child protection considerations. The majority of YOI's accommodate male young people, although there are four dedicated female units;
  • Secure Training Centres (STC's) - STC's are purpose-built centres for young offenders up to the age of 17. STC's can accommodate both male and female young people who are held separately. They are run by private operators under contracts, which set out detailed operational requirements. There are 3 STC's in England; and
  • Secure Children's Homes (SCH's) - Most SCH's are run by local authority children's social care. They can also be run by private or voluntary organisations. They accommodate children and young people who are placed there on a secure welfare order for the protection of themselves or others, and for those placed under criminal justice legislation. SCH's are generally used to accommodate young offenders aged 12 to 14, girls up to the age of 16, and 15 to 16-year-old boys who are assessed as vulnerable.

All these establishments have a duty to effectively safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people, which should include:

  • Protection of harm from themselves;
  • Protection of harm from adults; and
  • Protection of harm from peers.

All members of staff working in secure establishments have a duty to promote the welfare of children and young people and ensure that they are safeguarded effectively. In addition, Governors, Directors and senior managers have a duty to ensure that appropriate procedures are in place to enable them to fulfil their safeguarding responsibilities. These procedures should include, but not be limited to, arrangements to respond to:

  • Child protection allegations;
  • Incidents of self-harm and suicide; and
  • Incidents of violence and bullying.

All staff working within secure establishments should understand their individual safeguarding responsibilities and should receive appropriate training to enable them to fulfil these duties.

Appropriate recruitment and selection processes should be in place to ensure staff’s suitability to work with children and young people. These procedures should cover any adult working within the establishment, whether or not they are directly employed by the Governor/Director and include child protection, risk of harm, restraint, separation, staff recruitment and information sharing.