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.


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 (for young males only).

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 has been taken into account.

Read the The Youth Custody Service Placement Team guidance (PDF, 426KB, 20 pages) 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 protocol (MS Word Document, 445KB) .

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:

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.

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

If you have a concern about a placement decision you should follow the complaints process to raise it with the YCS Placement Team.

Complaints should be marked for the attention of the Placements Manager and sent to The YOT (who may be acting on the behalf of any one of the above representatives) should immediately convene a Placement Review meeting as per the Placement Review process noted below at or as close to the same time as lodging the concern.

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 (MS Word Document, 402KB) 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.

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 YCS Placement Team for more information about the placement decision.

Mother and Baby Unit

All young women placed in the secure estate for children and young people that are pregnant, or have a child aged less than 18 months of age, have the opportunity to be placed in a dedicated young women’s ‘Mother and Baby Unit’ (MBU). The MBU’s aim to deliver a holistic service for pregnant young women and those with babies. MBU’s offer purpose-built accommodation where the needs of the young women and babies can be most appropriately met. Presently this dedicated unit is within Rainsbrook STC.

An MBU enables pregnant young women and those with babies to live and look after their babies while they are in custody, or until the baby reaches the age of 18 months. In addition, the MBU will provide support to pregnant young women and the unborn child and aid the young women through their birth plan.

Contact the YCS Placement Team for more information about the admission procedure.

The YOT should read the Guidance on the placement of pregnant girls and mothers (MS Word Document, 221KB) and the Mother and baby unit application form (MS Word Document, 122KB) . The YOT should only fill in the application form after first discussing this with the YCS Placement Team.

The YOT should contact the YCS Placement Team for more information about the admission procedure.

For more information, read:

How to request additional licence conditions

How a child under 13 is placed in welfare accommodation

Published 31 July 2014
Last updated 17 January 2018 + show all updates
  1. updated link to civil injunction protocol document
  2. First published.