This release contains statistics on children accommodated in secure children's homes, including:
numbers of approved and available places
availability and occupancy rates
children accommodated by gender, age, ethnicity, and length of stay.
The data in this release is used to support monitoring and assessment of capacity within the system. The data is reported for England and Wales and is collected directly from secure children's homes.
Figures relate to a snapshot of the position on 31 March each year, except for 2020 when the reference date was changed to 29 February to reflect the position in secure children's homes before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the national lockdown.
Headline facts and figures - 2022
Figures relate to 31 March 2022, for England and Wales, comparisons are to 31 March 2021 unless otherwise stated.
Children accommodated in secure children's homes increased by 16% (23 more children) to 165. Since 2010, there has been a gradual decline in children accommodated in secure children's homes. The increase this year is likely to be due to lower figures last year due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Occupancy rates have increased and now stand at 66% - up from 56%.
62 children were placed by the Youth Custody Service (YCS), up from 55. Since 2010, there has been a longer-term trend of fewer children being placed by the YCS. Again, the small increase this year is likely due to fewer children being placed in 2021 due to the pandemic.
Since 2015, the number of places in secure children's homes that were approved for use has remained fairly stable around 250.
Download all data available in this release as a compressed ZIP file
Secure children's homes provide a safe place where very vulnerable children and young people can receive the care, support and education they need. Children can be placed in secure children's homes either by local authorities or the Youth Custody Service (YCS). The YCS place vulnerable children when they are remanded to custody by the courts or are serving a custodial sentence. Local authorities place children when no other type of placement can keep them safe as they are a significant risk to themselves or others.
Places contracted to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ)
Some places within secure children's homes are contracted out for use to the MoJ and children are placed in them by the YCS.
From September 2017, the overall responsibility for commissioning of youth custody transferred to the MoJ from the Youth Justice Board. At the same time the Youth Custody Service (YCS) took over responsibility for individual placements of children and young people into youth custody and day-to-day management of youth custody.
There are currently 14 secure children’s homes in England and Wales, carrying 249approved places. This is down 4 places on last year but has remained broadly stable in recent years.
The availability of approved places has remained at 88%. An approved place may not be available for use for a number of reasons, for example if the home is undergoing development work or if staffing ratios mean a reduced number of places can be filled. The availability rate remained consistently above 90% between 2010 and 2016 but has been very slightly lower in the last six years.
These are based on the number of places that were in use or available for use at 31 March, excluding any approved places that are out of service.
The number of approved places contracted to the MoJ has reduced by 2 places to 105. More longer-term, figures published by the Her Majesty's Prison Service show that the overall population of the youth secure estate has declined in the last decade, influenced by a move by courts towards sentencing children being a last resort. This is reflected in the secure children’s homes data for MoJ contracted places and Youth Custody Service (YCS) placements.
The number of children placed in secure homes by the YCS has increased this year to 62, up from 55 last year.
Within the 14 secure children’s homes, there were 165 children accommodated, up 16%, representing 23 more children. However, this is still below the pre-pandemic levels in 2020, and is in line with a longer term gradual decrease in the number of children placed in secure children's homes.
The occupancy rate was 66%, this has not returned to pre-pandemic levels but is up from 56% last year (which was the lowest occupancy rate recorded in the time-period from 2010).
These are based on the number of children accommodated in relation to the number of places approved by the Secretary of State.
The increase in occupancy is due to an increase in placements for criminal justice reasons. mainly from children placed by the local authority in a criminal justice context.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the MoJ reported fewer young people in custody following the initial impact of the pandemic on court proceedings. Local authorities have reported that on occasion throughout the year, staff availability has impacted on the number of available places in some of their residential settings.
Half of children accommodated in secure children's homes are placed by the local authority on welfare grounds.
Children detained or sentenced and placed by the YCS include children detained for, or convicted of, a serious offence under the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 or the Criminal Justice Act 2003; or subject to a Supervision Order with a residence requirement or a Detention and Training Order under the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000.
Children placed by the local authority in a criminal justice context include children remanded by a court under section 102 (Remand to youth detention accommodation) of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012; or accommodated pursuant to section 38 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
Children placed by the local authority on welfare grounds include children who are placed into the homes by their local authority under section 25 of the Children Act 1989 for the protection of themselves and/or others.
There are more males than females accommodated in secure children’s homes. The proportion of children accommodated who are male has increased to 69% (114 children), from 62%, an increase of 26 children. The number of female children accommodated fell slightly by 3 children to 51.
Information on the gender split by type of placement is not collected but it is highly likely this increase in number of males relates to the increase in children placed due to criminal justice reasons, as males account for over 95% of the youth custody population.
Around three quarters of children accommodated are aged 15 years or over. The largest increase this year has been in the number of 15 year olds, up 48%, however, the numbers in each age group are small and do fluctuate over time. Children accommodated by age in 2022:
9 were aged 13 years (5%)
22 were aged 14 years old (13%)
59 were aged 15 years old (36%)
47 were aged 16 years old (28%)
17 were aged 17 years old (10%)
the remaining 7% were either aged under 13, or 18 years and over.
Last year was the first year that information on the ethnicity of children accommodated in secure homes was reported. The numbers and proportions of children accommodated by ethnicity are in the table. It is not possible to determine whether the changes seen since 2021 are down to natural variation due to the relatively small size of the cohort, or other factors.