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4.4.5 Secure Accommodation (or 'Criteria') Reviews


This procedure applies to children placed in secure accommodation.


In May 2018, this chapter was extensively revised and should be re-read in full.


  1. The Purpose of Reviews
  2. Arrangements for Reviews
  3. The Secure Accommodation Review Panel
  4. Preparation for the Review
  5. Conducting the Review
  6. Following the Review

1. The Purpose of Reviews

The Purpose of a Secure Accommodation Review (sometimes called a 'Criteria Review') is to consider the following:

2. Arrangements for Reviews

Secure Accommodation Reviews must be convened within 28 days of a child being placed in secure accommodation, and then at intervals not exceeding three months.

Where it is determined by the social worker and their manager that a further application should be made to the Court to keep the child in secure accommodation beyond the expiry of the current Secure Accommodation Order, then the social worker must request that the Secure Accommodation Review Panel meets to consider the application.

Secure Accommodation Reviews will be convened in the same way as Looked After Reviews. Notification will be sent to the child's social worker, Panel members and the relevant secure Team. An agenda and criteria to be considered at the review will be sent.

The Review Panel will meet at the relevant secure Team.

3. The Secure Accommodation Review Panel

The Secure Accommodation Panel should be chaired by a person independent of the care planning for the child, including line managers and the Independent Reviewing Officer. Given the need to focus on the Section 25, Children Act 1989 criteria issues, the chair should also be independent of any resource allocation, etc. but have sufficient experience and knowledge to carry out the task.

The 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 Executive Director.

The Panel comprises the Chair and two other people, one of whom will be independent both of the local authority and the authority managing the secure Team.

An IRO may sit as one of the other two Panel members, though this cannot be the allocated IRO (para 4.14 IRO Handbook).

4. Preparation for the Review

Prior to a Secure Accommodation Review, the social worker will ensure the following are undertaken:

  • A report for the Review is prepared, which has been endorsed by their manager and incorporates the views of all those consulted about the placement (see Placements in Secure Accommodation on Welfare Grounds Procedure, Consultation), the Child's Guardian and the provider of the secure accommodation;
  • Written invitations are sent to the parent and those with Parental Responsibility, and any other persons whose attendance is agreed;
  • The child and parent(s) are clear about the purpose of the Secure Accommodation Review. The social worker should go through the report and proposed Care Plan with them;
  • Consideration is given to identifying an advocate to support the child and ensure their views are 'heard' by the review;
  • The parents are given adequate support to prepare for the Review, which may include arranging for an interpreter and/or advocate to assist them;
  • The secure Team is aware of the Review date and arrangements have been made for the staff in the secure placement to prepare a report, taking account of the progress made by the child and stating their view as to whether the criteria for secure accommodation continue to apply (see Placements in Secure Accommodation on Welfare Grounds Procedure, Secure Accommodation Criteria) and whether any other description of accommodation would be appropriate.

The social worker should ensure that their Report is circulated to the secure Team and to the Panel Chair and other Panel members at least one week before the Review date.

5. Conducting the Review

The Secure Accommodation Review, and the Panel's members, must focus on the questions and issues around the criteria for secure accommodation (see Section 1, The Purpose of Reviews) within the context of the child's specific circumstances.

In considering these matters, the Panel must have regard to the child's welfare.

The Secure Accommodation Review does not take the place of a Looked After Review; it is distinctly different and the outcome of the Secure Accommodation Review must be reported to the Looked After Review.

The independent Panel member should see the young person before the Secure Accommodation Review to establish their views, wishes and feelings and give them an opportunity to express any concerns about their situation.

The Review must be formally minuted.

The Review Panel will consider the social worker's report, the notes and decisions of the most recent Looked After Review and the views of the following:

  • The child, the parent(s) and those with Parental Responsibility;
  • The child's social worker and manager;
  • Those who previously have had or may have care of the child upon discharge;
  • The Child's Guardian;
  • The child's Independent Visitor and/or advocate;
  • The Link/Keyworker for the child from the Secure Team together with other services provided by them, e.g. Education and Health and feedback with regard to the young person's mobility plan;
  • Any specialist assessments that may have been commissioned e.g.: psychological;
  • The local authority or provider managing the secure accommodation in which the child is placed.

The Review Panel is responsible for listening to the views of those who contribute, and coming to a recommendation about whether they believe the criteria for secure accommodation are met (see Placements in Secure Accommodation on Welfare Grounds Procedure, Secure Accommodation Criteria).

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. 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.

Once the Panel has made a recommendation regarding the child's continued placement in secure accommodation, this should be communicated to the young person and other participants, though with clarity that this is a recommendation rather than a decision. Other recommendations may also be made, for example regarding mobility and visiting arrangements.

Where required, a date for the next Review Panel should also be set.

The minutes of the Review should be completed and circulated to all attendees as soon as possible and always within one month of the Criteria review. They should detail the reasoning behind the Panel's recommendation(s).

6. Following the Review

The recommendation of the Panel will be submitted immediately to the Executive Director for consideration and a decision as to the future placement of the child.

Where the young person is already a Looked After Child, or has had a Looked After Review, the IRO must be advised of the outcome of the Secure Accommodation Review.

The social worker will also inform all those whose views have been taken into account of the outcome of the Review, what action, if any, the local authority proposes to take in relation to the child in the light of the Review, and their reasons for taking or not taking such action.

It should be borne in mind that the Executive Director, the Children's Guardian and /or the court may need to have the minutes as evidence for decision-making.

If the Panel concludes that the criteria for restricted liberty no longer apply, the placement is no longer necessary or another type of placement would be more appropriate, the local authority must immediately hold a LAC Review to review the child's placement and effect the 'exit' or contingency plan.