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Care proceedings & child protection

Secure accommodation orders for children

There are a number of Secure Children’s Homes in the UK which provide residential placements for boys and girls aged between 10 and 17.

It is unlawful to restrict the liberty of a child, no matter how briefly, and a local authority may not keep a looked-after child in secure accommodation for longer than 72 hours without obtaining a secure accommodation order. An order will only be granted if one of these conditions applies:

  • if the child has a history of running away, and so would be likely to run away from another type of placement, and might suffer significant harm if they run away; or
  • if the child is likely to injure himself or herself, or if they might injure someone else if they were kept in any other form of placement.

For a child under the age of 13, the local authority would need approval from the Secretary of State.

In the interest of the child’s welfare, secure accommodation should only ever be used for the minimum period necessary, and it should be ended as soon as the reason no longer applies.

If a secure accommodation order is being sought, then the child must have their own solicitor at the hearing.

The expert solicitors at Miles & Partners are experienced in all aspects of the law regarding children, and we can support parents and children in care proceedings which involve a secure accommodation order.

Who we can help

We support parents, grandparents, other relatives, when a local authority proposes a secure accommodation order.

We also act separately for children who are old enough and have sufficient understanding to instruct a solicitor themselves. Generally, this applies to teenagers only, but sometimes children as young as 10 can be found to be of sufficient understanding.

How we can help

We can help by advising as to the court’s likely approach to an application for a secure accommodation order and can represent you in court if you are party to the application.

Funding for legal advice or representation

Legal aid funding is available in some circumstances subject to an assessment of your financial circumstances ands the merits of your case.

Contact our family law team

Contact us right away if you are affected by any of these issues, for compassionate, specialist advice.