Healthcare standards for children and young people in secure settings

There are about 1,000 children and young people held in secure settings at any one time. They are some of the most vulnerable, often suffering poor physical and mental health. These standards - first published in 2013, and refreshed in 2019 for England - help healthcare professionals, commissioners, service providers, regulators, managers and governors ensure that these young people receive the care they need to improve their health outcomes.

The standards take a pathway and multi-professional approach, following the young person’s journey through a secure setting. They apply to children and young people aged between 10-17 (inclusive) on both welfare and justice placements in secure centres, including young offender institutions, secure children’s homes, secure training centres and their equivalents.

Healthcare staff should be like normal people. Come in here, do what you need to do, but still be normal you know.

Young person living in secure settings


Six years on, the standards have been refreshed for England to align with changes to regulation, legislation and professional guidance.

As with the 2013 standards, a range of stakeholders were engaged throughout including healthcare and operational staff working in secure settings, young people with lived experience of secure settings, and the Royal Colleges and Faculties. The refresh was supported by NHS England and NHS Improvement. 

The refreshed standards are applicable specifically to secure settings in England. Secure settings in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland should refer to the original 2013 standards.

The following organisations have contributed to the refresh of the standards and have endorsed their publication: Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine, Faculty of Public Health, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, British Psychological Society.