Placing young people in custody: guide for youth justice practitioners

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

Applies to England and Wales


When a child or young person under 18 is remanded or sentenced to custody, the Youth Custody Service (YCS) 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.

The placement decision is based on the information provided by youth offending teams (YOTs). The YCS’s Placement Team will contact YOTs to make sure the needs, risks and circumstances of each young person have been taken into account.

Read the The Youth Custody Service Placement Team guidance (MS Word Document, 252 KB) for an overview of the main responsibilities and activities of the Youth Custody Service (YCS) Placements Service.

If the young person has broken a civil injunction then the YCS follows the relevant Placement Review Form (MS Word Document, 95.3 KB).

Notify the YCS Placement Team

YOTs should notify the YCS Placement Team as soon as the young person is sentenced.

To do this, the YOT should complete the:

  • AssetPlus full stage
  • AssetPlus custody module

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

Appealing a Placement or Placement Review Decision

If you have a concern about an initial placement or placement review decision, please refer to the following How to Appeal Placement and Placement Review Decisions (PDF, 92.4 KB, 3 pages) escalation process.

How to request a transfer or placement review

The YCS 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 Guidance (PDF, 365 KB, 14 pages) 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 YCS Placement Team.

The YCS Placement Team 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.

More information

Find out:

Published 31 July 2014
Last updated 21 August 2023 + show all updates
  1. Updated to remove out of date references to placement options.

  2. YCS placements guidance amended to remove references to sites no longer operating and include reference and links to existing procedures.

  3. Added attachment 11 and updated the Appealing a Placement or Placement Review decision section

  4. Updated information under The Keppel Unit and Mother and Baby Units

  5. updated link to civil injunction protocol document

  6. First published.