Secure Welfare Coordination Unit

01962 846 432

The Secure Welfare Coordination Unit (SWCU) is a small unit grant funded by the Department for Education (DfE) for the purposes of administering placements and collecting data on secure welfare. It is not a legal entity and therefore does not have a Director.

The SWCU provides a transparent, dedicated single point of contact for local authorities in England and Wales, to arrange secure welfare placements and streamline the process of finding the most suitable placement matching the individual needs of each young person needing secure care. The SWCU is committed to ensuring the best outcomes for all children needing secure placements. Data from the Secure Children’s Homes is collected by the SWCU on a daily basis. Referrals are then sent to homes if a secure place is available. The home will then indicate whether they can accept the young person.

Referral forms and supporting documentation should be sent securely to the SWCU only.


Meeting the Criteria For Secure Accommodation

Secure accommodation welfare placements are available for young people that meet the criteria set out in Section 25 of the 1989 Children’s Act for placements in England, or in section 119 of the Social Services and Well-being Act 2014 for placements in Wales. These Acts stipulate that a child being looked after by the local authority may not be placed and if placed may not be kept, in secure accommodation unless it appears:

  1. That he/she has a history of absconding and is likely to abscond from anything other than secure accommodation; and
  2. If he/she absconds he/she is likely to suffer significant harm (Section 25(1)(a) / Section 119(1)(a)); or
  3. If he/she is kept in anything other than secure accommodation he/she is likely to injure him/herself or other persons (Section 25 (1)(b) / Section 119(1)(b)).


If the criteria are satisfied, there is a mandatory duty on the Court to make the order. Re: M (Secure Accommodation Order) (CA) (1995) 1 FLR. 418


When making an application to court if at the time you are unsure if the placement will be in Wales or England, you should fill in the application form so that it is expressed in the alternative so that the application is made either for a Section 119 order or a Section 25 order and then you can tell the judge on the day of the hearing where the placement will be and therefore what sort of order you are asking the court to make.


If the court made a Section 119 order for Wales but then the child needed to be moved to England it would require an application back to the court to get a section 25 order to authorise the placement in England, and vice versa for Welsh placements.

Making a Referral

To make referrals for young people that meet the Section 25 / Section 119 criteria please download and complete the SCH Referral Form. If the young person is aged between 13 and 17 this is the only referral paperwork required.

Completed SCH Referral Forms should be securely emailed to the SWCU at The SWCU can also be contacted on 01962 846432 for more information on secure welfare placements.

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