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The expansion of secure education in Scotland: in the best interests of the child?

Smith, M. and Milligan, I.M. (2005) The expansion of secure education in Scotland: in the best interests of the child? Youth Justice, 4 (3). pp. 178-191. ISSN 1747-6283

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Abstract

The Scottish Executive recently announced a significant increase in secure accommodation, amongst a raft of measures aimed at tackling youth crime. These developments represent a marked and sudden change in political direction, away from an emphasis on community-based welfare disposals towards more institutionally-based correctional interventions. This article outlines the history and legal basis of secure accommodation in Scotland and examines recent reviews concerning the need or otherwise for its expansion. Such reviews have consistently failed to support a need to increase the number of secure places available and this raises questions about whether the Scottish Executive’s decision is based on sound evidence. The article contends that the decision to expand reflects a populist but erroneous conception of secure accommodation as a justice oriented disposal. It is argued that secure accommodation is and should remain, located firmly within a welfare framework. Implications for youth justice and for the residential child care system more generally are considered.