Secure Accommodation (Criteria) Reviews


This chapter concerns the requirement for dedicated Secure Accommodation (Criteria) Reviews to be held and details how these are conducted in Hertfordshire. Separate procedures are available regarding Placements in Secure Accommodation Procedure.

The primary purpose of a Secure Accommodation Review is to consider whether the secure accommodation criteria are met and to review whether less restrictive care arrangements might better meet the child's needs.


Section 3, Secure Accommodation Review Panels was revised in September 2015 and updated to clarify chairing arrangements.

1. Introduction and Overview

In addition to Regulations governing the frequency of visits and statutory reviews, young people placed in secure accommodation must be the subject of separate secure accommodation reviews.

The local authority must appoint at least three people to review the secure placement within one month of its start.

Thereafter reviews must be carried out at least every three months whilst the young person continues to be kept in secure accommodation.

Of the three panel members, at least one must be independent, to the extent that they must be neither a member nor officer of the authority by whom the young person is looked after nor of the authority that is providing the secure accommodation.

An Independent Reviewing Officer may be included as a Panel Member but should not be the IRO with responsibility for the child.

2. The Purpose of the Review

The overall purpose of the review is to ensure that the young person's welfare is being promoted and safeguarded. In particular those carrying out the review must satisfy themselves that:

  • The criteria for keeping a young person in secure accommodation continue to apply;
  • Such a placement continues to be necessary and whether or not any other description of accommodation would be appropriate;
  • The welfare needs of the young person are addressed by consulting with all those who may be expected to take an interest.

The Secure Accommodation Review Panel Meeting should also consider:

  • The circumstances under which the young person will be allowed greater freedom, including any transfer to a more 'open' unit;
  • The phased nature and timing of such increases in freedom, known as 'mobility' training.

3. Secure Accommodation Review Panels

Review Panels will have three members who will be:

  • The Service Manager (IRT), with no line management responsibility, will Chair the Panel. If the Service Manager (IRT) is not available the Service Manager (Child Protection) will chair the meeting. If neither of the Service Managers are available, then the Head of Child Protection and Statutory Review will chair the meeting;
  • Independent Reviewing Officer who is not the reviewing officer for the child;
  • Independent person not employed by LA (this is usually someone from Coram Voice.

4. Conduct of the Secure Accommodation (Criteria) Review

One of the independent Panel members should see the young person before the review.

All reports should be circulated before the meeting wherever possible.

The chair should set out the purpose and structure of the meeting and which secure accommodation criteria the Panel will be testing.

The Social Worker and a representative of the secure unit should then present their reports. There should also be a school report and if relevant psychiatric or psychological reports. Evidence given during the Court process is appropriate for the Panel to consider alongside more recent/current evidence of the young person's situation.

Professionals' contributions should address the core issues of absconding, injury to self and/or injury to others. The Children Act Welfare Checklist should also be kept in mind and be considered.

The young person and/or her/his representative should be permitted to offer a different view or challenge the evidence presented. Notes should be made in the minutes of different points of view or interpretation of the facts.

The young person and/or her/his representative should then be permitted to present the evidence for the young person and similarly the Social Worker and representative of the secure unit should be permitted to offer a different view of the facts.

Finally the Social Worker and/or representative of the secure unit should be asked to summarise the facts and the young person or their representative must summarise their view of the facts.

The Review Panel should then withdraw to discuss their findings before presenting them to the meeting.

The Chair must sum up and present the findings in language that the young person understands. The chair is responsible for ensuring the young person is fully informed of the decision.

The meeting should then agree the date for the next Panel review (if required).

A record of the Secure Accommodation Review must be made which details:

  • The reasons why the criteria continue to be met for a Secure Accommodation Order; or
  • The reason why the placement is no longer necessary; and
  • Action to be taken, by whom and when.

5. Arranging a Secure Accommodation (Criteria) Review

The first review must be arranged at the start of the placement by the Social Worker who must contact the Head of IRT for suitable dates and discuss with participants.

The Social Worker must confirm the date and time with the Secure Unit and all other participants as soon as possible.

The Social Worker and Team Manager must attend.

As a minimum, the following must be invited:

  • Young person;
  • Parent and/or anyone who has parental responsibility;
  • Anyone who usually cares for the young person;
  • Anyone who has a significant role in the wellbeing of the young person;
  • The young person's Independent Visitor (if one is appointed);
  • The local authority who manages the secure accommodation where the young person is placed (this is usually a manager from the Secure Accommodation Unit).

Prior to the review the Social Worker must also seek the views of the above people.

These may be obtained by:

  • Telephone;
  • Visits;
  • Reports.

A record of these views must be made on a Detailed Record Sheet and put on the case record. The use of a standard letter is perfectly acceptable to obtain these views.

The Social Worker must provide a report including these views to the Chair 5 days before the date of the review.

This report must include details of what other accommodation has been considered with reasons as to why it is not appropriate. The report must include a contingency plan that can be put into operation immediately should the Panel consider that the criteria are no longer met.

This record must be attached to the relevant section of the case record.

Copies of the above record must be circulated to all those attending the review within 5 days of the review taking place.

6. The Review Outcome

At the conclusion of the review, the local authority must, within a reasonable time and as far as is practicable, notify all those who were required to be consulted of:

  • The outcome of the review;
  • What action if any they propose to take; and
  • Their reasons for taking or not taking such action.

If the outcome of the review is that the criteria for restricting liberty no longer apply, the placement is no longer necessary or there is an appropriate alternative, then immediate action must be taken to end the placement.