Plans to build Scotland’s first secure hospital for adolescents in Irvine have been unveiled.

Young people with potentially dangerous psychiatric disorders would be treated at a 12-bed forensic unit in the town.

The plans come from NHS Ayrshire and Arran, but it will be up to the Scottish Government to sign off on the £4.5 million funding needed.

If approved, the facility would begin construction before the end of the decade and accept referrals from anywhere in Scotland.

It will offer rehabilitation to young patients with complex psychiatric illnesses, autism spectrum disorder or learning disabilities who are deemed too high-risk to be treated in the community.

This includes patients with a history of physical violence, sexually harmful behaviour, fire-setting and self-harm.

The National Secure Forensic Inpatient Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) would accommodate patients both male and female, up to the age of 19, and be located next to the new Woodland View adult acute mental health facility, which opened last year.

Annual running costs are estimated to be £3.89 million.

Scotland has no secure inpatient unit for children and teenagers who present high forensic risk.

Psychiatrists and mental health campaigners have long said this means seriously ill adolescents – some as young as 14 – are being locked up in unsuitable adult psychiatric wards, accommodated on paediatric wards where they pose a danger to other vulnerable patients, or sent miles from home to secure hospitals in England, jeopardising their chances of a full recovery.

A spokeswoman for NHS Ayrshire and Arran told the Irvine Times: “In October 2016 Ayrshire and Arran NHS Board approved and endorsed the business case following our successful application to host the national secure forensic mental health inpatient service for young people.

“The service is a first in the Scottish healthcare system and will provide assessment, treatment and care for young people whose complexity of presentation and severity of risk is set within a context of challenging legislative frameworks and systems.

“The challenges and complexities of working with these young people require a level of expertise that is, unfortunately, not widely available in the UK.

“The aim is to treat these young people within Scotland and return them to their own community services following therapeutic intervention