Placing young people in custody: guide for youth justice practitioners

How the Youth Justice Board places a young person in custody, and how to question a placement decision.


When a child or young person under 18 is remanded or sentenced to custody, the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (YJB) decides where they should be placed. This will be either at a secure training centre, secure children’s home or under-18 young offender institution (for young males only).

The placement decision is based on the information provided by YOTs. The YJB’s Placement Service will contact YOTs to make sure the needs, risks and circumstances of each young person has been taken into account.

If the young person has broken a civil injunction then the YJB follows the relevant placement protocol.

Notify the YJB Placement Service

YOTs should notify the YJB Placement Service as soon as the young person is sentenced.

To do this, the YOT should fill in the:

When the YOT has done this, it should send all the forms to the YJB Placement Service using Connectivity, the secure system that YOTs use to share information.

The YOT should also send the post-court report form to the establishment using the same method.

If the case management system is unavailable (or in any other exceptional circumstances) the YOT can use these Word documents.

Questioning a placement decision

The YOT can ask for the placement to be reviewed if it disagrees or has concerns about the placement allocation.

People who can apply for a review of the placement decision are:

  • the child and/or their parents or guardians
  • the designated local council (remand only)
  • the local council (when it has a child care order)
  • staff at the establishment where the child is placed
  • the child’s legal representative

How to request a review of a placement decision

To ask for a review of a placement decision, read the placement review process and then:

The Head of the Placement Service will review the decision based on the most important risk factors in the case and evidence provided. They’ll give the YOT a written decision within 10 working days.

If the YOT is unhappy with their decision, they should email the form to the YJB Director - Operations or Head of Wales at

How to request a transfer or placement review

The YJB carries out placement reviews to decide whether a transfer is required for a child or young person.

YOTs can ask for one if they are responsible for a child or young person and:

  • their circumstances change
  • there is a risk or issue with their current placement

To request a transfer, the YOT should read the placement review process and then:

Other people can ask for a transfer but only the YOT and/or staff at the establishment where the child is placed should contact the YJB Placement Service.

The YJB Placement Service makes the final decision in the best interests of the child or young person after carefully considering all of the information available and opinions stated.

The Keppel Unit

The Keppel Unit at Wetherby under-18 young offender institution (YOI) provides enhanced support to 15 to 17-year-old young men who for a variety of reason are not engaging - or are unlikely to engage - with the normal regime in a YOI.

If, as part of the multi-disciplinary meeting, the YOT decides that a referral to the Keppel Unit is appropriate, it should:

The YOT should contact the YJB Placement Service for more information about the placement decision.

For more information, read:

How to request additional licence conditions

How a child under 13 is placed in welfare accommodation