Local authorities have powers to detain a child against his or her will in certain circumstances, for their own safety or the safety of others.
There is a straightforward explanation of secure accommodation here, on the Child Protection Resource website.
Secure accommodation is governed by section 119 Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 and the Children (Secure Accommodation) (Wales) Regulations 2015.
The relevant guidance is in the part 6 Code, on pages 142-151.
Hillside Secure Centre is currently the only approved place for a secure accommodation placement in Wales. If a placement is made in England, section 25 of the Children Act 1989 will apply instead of section 119 of the 2104 Act but the 2015 Regulations will apply in part. This is explained here.
The requirements of the court under s 25 and s 119 are the same.
The Code says:
‘Restricting the liberty of a child is a serious step which should only be taken where it is necessary and where other alternatives have been considered. The decision to place a child in a secure children’s home must be made on the basis that it is the best option to meet the particular needs of the child, and the placement should be part of the local authority’s overall plan for the child’s welfare. Secure placements, once made, should only continue for as long as they remain appropriate to meet the needs of the child.’
Children subject to an application for secure accommodaton should normally be present at the court hearing.