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Youth Offending Teams
Reducing youth crime and anti social behaviour and improving the youth justice system is central to cross governmental plans to build safer communities, tackle the problem of social exclusion and to improve outcomes for children and young people. This requires an integrated approach with all agencies and services.
The Youth Justice System in England and Wales comprises of the following organisations that work together to administer justice and to help every young person involved with it to live a life free from crime and anti-social behaviour:
- The Youth Justice Board
- 157 Youth Offending Teams
- Crown Prosecution Service
- Secure Estate
Significant changes in the way that the Youth Justice system operates arise from the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act (CJIA) 2008 and the Youth Crime Action Plan 2009
The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act (CJIA) 2008 includes the introduction of a new Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO) which combines most of the existing community sentences into one generic sentence. It mirrors the adult Community Order introduced in the CJA 2003. The YRO has a menu of 18 interventions to tackle offending behaviour and this will enable sentences to be individually tailored to match a young person’s risks and needs.
The CJIA has also increased the considerations that need to apply when Courts are sentencing an offender under 18. Equal weight will be given to:
- the prevention of offending
- the welfare of the young person (section 44 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933), and
- the purposes of sentencing
- punishment of offenders
- reform and rehabilitation of offenders
- protection of the public
- making of reparation by offenders to persons affected by their offences
Youth Crime Action Plan
The Youth Crime Action Plan 2008 signposts achievements to date in
reducing the frequency of youth re offending and outlines the government’s plans to further tackle youth crime. This new strategy is a ‘triple track’ approach of Enforcement & Punishment where behaviour is unacceptable, non-negotiable support and challenge where it is most needed and better and earlier prevention.
www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/youth-crime-action-plan (See also Scaled Approach section)
Youth Offending Teams (YOT) or Youth Offending Service (YOS) are key to the success of the youth justice system. The primary purpose of the YOT is to prevent offending and reduce re-offending by children and young people under the age of 18.
The YOT is a multi-agency partnership set up under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. The service usually includes representatives seconded from statutory partners including Children and Young People Services, Police, Probation and Health who work alongside practitioners and specialist workers. The diversity of the staff mix enables the YOT to respond to the varied risks and needs of children and young people whilst addressing their offending behaviour and managing any risk of harm to others.
Promoting equality, working in an anti-discriminatory way and valuing diversity is fundamental to addressing disproportionality that is evident within the youth justice system and to the provision of individualised services to children and their families.
Each YOT will have a YOT manager who is responsible for co-ordinating the work of the youth justice services.
YOTS will have targeted prevention programmes for young people and their parent/carers to ensure that as few as possible of those who are on the cusp of offending, or who are engaging in anti social behaviour enter the Youth Justice system.
Before agreeing any interventions, Prevention staff will complete a structured and holistic assessment using ONSET to assist with the identification of both risk and positive factors which will impact on the likelihood of offending and risk of harm to others.
Targeted youth support (TYS) brings local services together, helping them to develop common ways of identifying and assessing the needs of vulnerable young people early on, and of intervening to help them.
The Youth Inclusion Programme (YIP) is a targeted youth service working with the 50 most “at risk” young people. Referrals can come from Children Services, schools and the Police. Young people are engaged through one to one key sessions as well as group based issue workshops and positive activities.
The main responsibilities of the YOT include
- Provision of an appropriate adult service in police stations
- Bail supervision for young people going through court
- Interventions for those subject to a police final warning
- Supervising community and custodial sentences
- Enforcement of court orders and custodial licences
- Providing support to parents
- Restorative approaches to address the needs of victims
Key activities when working with children and young people involve:
- Assessing the likelihood of re-offending and the risk of causing harm using the ASSET assessment framework.
- Planning and managing interventions to reduce these risks;
- Providing reparation activities and other restorative interventions.
- Working with partner agencies to strengthen protective factors against further offending,
- Supporting children and young people completing YOT interventions in accessing the full range of universal services to maximise positive outcomes.
The “Scaled Approach” is currently being implemented in YOTs. The Scaled Approach aims to ensure that interventions are tailored to the young person, with more resources directed to those most likely to reoffend and/or pose a risk of serious harm to others. It provides a framework for assessment, proposals to court and youth offender panels, interventions and review and revised National Standards for Youth Justice Services and other guidance materials aligned with the YJB’s “Key Elements of Effective Practice’ will support this change.
Further details can be found on the YJB website www.yjb.gov.uk
The Youth Justice Board (YJB) is an executive non-departmental public body which oversees the youth justice system in England and Wales. The YJB works with the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Children, Schools and Families to achieve the joint outcomes of appropriate justice and safeguarding children. It funds the Secure Estate and makes a financial contribution to each YOT. The YJB does not directly employ YOT staff but aims to influence employment practices through performance management and the work of its regional teams.
“Wiring Up Youth Justice” is a business change programme developed by the YJB to improve the way that information is used and shared across the youth justice system to promote more effective interventions with young people and the reduction of risk. Progress is also being made in the provision of seamless information sharing across the whole criminal justice and children’s services community.
The Youth Justice National Qualifications Framework (NQF)
This is a range of qualifications developed by the YJB to promote and enhance effective Youth Justice Practice. The NQF enables practitioners, managers and volunteers to obtain qualifications that fit their role and experience. It provides recognised professional training for currently unqualified staff and volunteers enhancing the quality of work undertaken whilst affording staff the opportunity to advance their careers.
See YJB website for further details
All YOTs are constituted differently and job titles, functions and employment arrangements will vary. Depending on the size of the service, some specialist posts may also undertake some of the case management functions.
Listed below are some common features of job requirements but each vacancy will be different and there will still be opportunities for those who need to build and strengthen their experience.
Everyone working in the YOS must
- work within the principles of “Working together to safeguard children” in relation to safeguarding young people
- ensure equality of access to services provided by the YOT and to promote equality in the work place
- Maintain a high level of confidentiality whilst facilitating the appropriate storing and sharing of information in line with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Crime and Disorder Act 1998
Experience may be required of
- working with challenging and hard to engage children and young people
- Working with parent and carers
- working with offenders
- Working within a statutory or relevant job related framework
The following skills would be appropriate for most of the jobs listed:
- Developing productive and boundaried relationships
- Establishing or working with clear targets and plans
- Coordination of resources
- Good oral communication and negotiation skills
- Good written communication and IT abilities
- Analytic skills
- Delivering customer focused services
- Delivering results
- Decision making
- Time management
Most but not all jobs will require a professional qualification in social work, probation, youth and community work, health, education or a relevant degree with appropriate experience with children and young people.
Social Workers will need to be GSCC registered.
Please click below to read about a selection of the range of posts in the Youth Offending Service. (The term YOT can also be read as YOS).