These orders enable a local authority or other specified authorities to place a child in a secure setting for their own or other people’s safety.
The court can make a secure accommodation order where:
a) A young person has a history of running away and is likely to run away from any other kind of accommodation; or
b) If the young person is not kept in secure accommodation he is likely to injure himself or other people.
Only children aged up to 18 years, who are in local authority care or accommodated by the local authority can be placed in secure accommodation. Children under 13 can only be kept this accommodation with the consent of the Secretary of State.
The court’s authority is not required for the first 72 hours in any 28 day period that a child is placed in secure accommodation. However if the local authority believes that the child needs to be in secure accommodation for longer, an application must be made to the court for an order authorising this.
Whilst the court can allow the child who is the subject of the application to attend court, it should only be permitted if it is satisfied that it is in the interest of the child to do so. However, the child is legally represented at the proceedings.
The court can authorise a secure accommodation order for up to three months on the first application, and then for periods up to six months on further application. However, where the child is on remand to the local authority from a criminal court having been charged with a criminal offence, different rules apply.
Regardless of the length of the court order, if during the course of the order the child is no longer a danger to themselves or others then the local authority can release him or her from the secure accommodation.
The local authority must make arrangements for contact between the child and their parents, or seek a court order to suspend or stop contact if they believe that it is not in the child’s interest for contact to take place.
There will be regular reviews of the care plan for the child and to monitor the child’s progress whilst in the secure setting. These reviews should also consider the future plans for the child, once they have left the secure setting.
Whilst in the accommodation the child must receive education.
Our family law department is more than willing to clarify your queries. If you need further assistance feel free to call us on 020 8543 3302