BMA guidance

The doctor's role in the youth secure estate

This report explores the role of doctors in protecting and promoting the health and wellbeing of children and young people – before, during, and after a period of detention.

Location: UK
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Friday 28 June 2024
Topics: Ethics
Justice scales article illustration

What you'll get from this guide

  • Risk factors, human rights and the health needs of young people in detention.
  • Joining up care and support for disadvantaged young people.
  • Discussion and analysis of the doctor’s role and decision-making.


How to use this guide

Healthcare professionals have been guided by a set of clinical standards for children and young people in secure settings. These standards are vital to ensuring equal care and providing benchmarks for healthcare provision.

This report is not intended as a substitute for these or any other clinical standards. It provides discussion and analysis around points of tension and difficulty in the doctor’s role - thereby supporting doctors’ decision making and good patient care.

  • The structure of children’s rights
  • The journey into detention
  • Protective factors for keeping young people from offending
  • Health rights and accessibility of health services
  • Who are the young people in detention?
  • Life in detention and health screening
  • Commissioning health services in secure settings
  • Restraint and segregation
  • Challenges to medical professionalism
  • Resettlement and return to community healthcare