Research and analysis

Understanding the market for secure children's homes: summary report

Research paper summarising the findings from a study of the market for secure children’s homes.



Secure children’s homes (SCHs) are provided by individual local authorities (and in one case a voluntary agency) to offer care in a secure setting to young people sentenced by the courts and to young people detained for their own welfare. They cater for 12 to 14 year olds sentenced to custody, girls under 17 and boys aged 15 or 16 with particular needs.

There are currently 16 SCHs in England plus one in Wales. Of the 16 English homes, seven provide welfare places only, two provide youth justice places only, and the remainder provide both types. Placements for sentenced children are commissioned by the Youth Justice Board (YJB), whereas placements for children requiring detention on welfare grounds under Section 25 of the Children Act 1989 are commissioned by individual local authorities, usually on a spot-purchase basis. Although only 15 LAs run SCHs, almost all authorities have an occasional but compelling need to commission secure welfare placements.