Research Report

Secure Accommodation in Scotland: Its Role and Relationship with 'Alternative' Services



Walker M, Barclay A, Hunter L, Kendrick A, Malloch M, Hill M & McIvor G (2005) Secure Accommodation in Scotland: Its Role and Relationship with 'Alternative' Services. Scottish Executive. Social Research, Education. Scottish Executive.

A study of secure accommodation and services which offer an alternative was carried out between November 2002 and 2005, by a research team from the universities of Stirling, Strathclyde and Glasgow. The research focussed on the use and effectiveness of secure accommodation in relation to young people placed on the authority of a children’s hearing. The aims of the research were to provide a clearer understanding of the purpose and effectiveness of secure accommodation in meeting the needs of young people, their families and communities and a framework to assist the decision-making process on the use of secure accommodation by children’s hearings and social work departments. The study focused on the experiences of 53 young people shortly after their admission to secure accommodation between October 2002 and 2003 and 23 young people considered for secure accommodation but sustained in an open setting for at least 6 months. Young people were recruited from community-based services offering an ‘alternative to secure accommodation’ and from residential schools. Interviews took place with senior and first-line social work managers, panel chairs and reporters on decision-making in relation to secure accommodation and views about its function and effectiveness and interviews were also held with a senior manager in each secure unit and key ‘other professionals’ including the head teacher, psychologist, Looked After Children (LAC) nurse and children’s rights officer. A review was also conducted of subsequent placements for 104 young people made subject to secure authorisation by a children’s hearing between 1 July and 31 December 2003 The research demonstrated that for young people who were putting themselves or others at risk a range of secure and open options was needed, so that diverse individual needs could be catered for. Recent developments in service provision are clearly moving towards this position. The research also indicated that provision prior to and following the secure episode was crucial in determining the use and effectiveness of secure provision and that this support may need to be provided over a longer time frame if the benefits of specialist intervention are to be realised. Because the mix of services across local authorities was so diverse, more specific evidence about the effectiveness of different packages and pathways may need to be sought in research carried out at a local level.

secure accommodation; young people; Scotland; children's hearings; Juvenile detention homes Scotland; Juvenile justice, Administration of Scotland; Child welfare Scotland; Children, Services for Scotland

Title of seriesSocial Research, Education
Publication date30/11/2005
PublisherScottish Executive
Publisher URL
ISBN0 7559 6235 4

People (2)


Professor Margaret Malloch

Professor Margaret Malloch

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Professor Gillian McIvor

Professor Gillian McIvor

Emeritus Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology