Secure children's homes provide care and accommodation for young people who have been placed by local authorities (LAs) under secure accommodation welfare orders (section 25 of the Children Act 1989) for their welfare and protection, or who have been placed under criminal justice legislation by the Youth Justice Board.

You can find further information on the Secure Accommodation Network website, which promotes the work of secure children's homes.

Restriction of liberty in children's homes

The liberty of children and young people can only be restricted in premises approved as secure accommodation by the Secretary of State for Education.

In March 2007 the chief inspector of the Commission for Social Care Inspection (then the inspectorate for children's homes) wrote to Directors of Children's Services regarding the legal position on the restriction of liberty in children's homes. 

Placement of under-13s in secure children's homes

Local authorities must seek the Secretary of State's approval before placing a child aged under 13 in secure accommodation, under section 25 of the Children Act 1989. To seek Secretary of State approval contact the Department (details at bottom of page). For calls after 5pm, please contact the out-of-hours number and ask to speak to the under-13s duty officer. Read the Information note to LAs – January 2011 for guidance on how to apply.

Restrictive physical intervention

The Department commissioned the National Children's Bureau (NCB) to undertake a project looking into the use of restraint in secure children's homes. The findings of this project were published on 15 December 2008 in the report, Restrictive physical intervention in secure children's homes.

The Government's approach to the future of restraint in secure children's homes can be found in the Response to the joint review of restraint in juvenile secure settings.

The independent joint review of restraint in juvenile secure settings is available for download from this page.

Youth Justice Board Placement Service

The YJB Placement Service is responsible for the placement of all young people aged under 18 sentenced or remanded to custody.

In relation to those young people made subject to a court ordered secure remand (COSR) the YJB Placement Service provides LAs with information on available places and, if required, advice and guidance to the LA on the most suitable placement based upon the YJB Placement Service staff’s knowledge and experience of the whole estate.

The relevant LA has placement responsibility for a COSR. The YJB Placement Service can be contacted at all times day and night using the contact details below.

Details about available welfare places in secure children's homes can be obtained by either contacting the YJB Placement Service using the contact details below or by accessing the Daily Welfare Report.

Contact details

Youth Justice Board Placement Service
Telephone: 0845 363 6363

Department for Education
Telephone: 0207 783 8086 / 0207 783 8079

Public Enquiry Unit - DfE
Organisation type: Other

Telephone: 0370 000 2288
Fax: 01928 794 248

Department for Education - out of hours (LA under-13s placements)
Telephone: 0207 340 7057