Youth offending

Following the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) were established in all local government areas in England and Wales.

These teams are tasked with carrying out all Youth Justice services within the area. Slough Youth Offending Team officially came into being on 1 April 2000.

The Slough YOT is a multi-agency team that brings together the experience of police, social services, youth and community, probation, education and health, in order to prevent offending and re-offending by children and young people aged 10-17 years old.

Having representatives from all agencies based in one team helps to make sure a more comprehensive and cohesive service is provided.

Slough YOT is a multi-agency team that brings together the experience of the:

  • police
  • social care
  • probation services
  • education services
  • health services

These services aim to prevent offending and re-offending by children and young people.

What do we know?

As highlighted by the 2005 report from the Youth Justice Board : Risk and Protective Factors “The risk factors for youth offending and substance abuse overlap to a very large degree with those for educational underachievement, young parenthood, and adolescent mental health problems. Action taken to address these risk factors (and to increase levels of protection) therefore helps to prevent a range of negative outcomes”.

According to a Government report only a relatively small number of young offenders receive a custodial sentence, but this group of young offenders has a significant social and economic cost across England and Wales. When offences result in a custodial sentence, 71% of young people released from detention go on to break the law again within 12 months.

The Youth Justice Board in 2008 published a review of the evidence for effective interventions in youth offenders, highlighting the importance of assessment, individually tailored interventions and building relationships.

Facts, figures, trends

An analysis of offending over 2014/2015 indicated that violence against the person (consisting of assault, bodily harm and verbal abuse) has remained the top offence type committed for over 3 years, thus warranting continued partnership working in this area. Theft and Handling and Criminal Damage are the two other offence types in the top 3 for Slough YOT.

What is noticeable however is that with partnership working there was a decline in robbery offences during 2014, moving from the position of third in 2013/2014 to fifth in 2014/2015. The analysis also indicate that the number of young people who offend has been declining year on year since 2012 with a fall of 29% over the last three years, and the number of offences committed has also fallen by 21.6% over the last 3 years, although there was a slight increase of 4% 2014/2015.

Rate of proven re-offending by young offenders (National Indicator)

YOT in-house data shows re-offending rate for 2014/2015 as 24.4% (29 of 119) thus the target of 15.49% was not met. The Re-offending Forum structure was re-vamped early this year to ensure that both those re-offending and on the cusp of re-offending were addressed. Focus in these areas meant that there was improvement in the re-offending rate in quarter 4.

Young people within the Youth Justice System receiving a conviction in court who are sentenced to custody (National Indicator)

Over the year, a total of nine young people received custodial sentences giving a figure of 8.3% (9 of 108). This is on par with last year’s figures of 8.4% (10 of 119). Slough YOT continues to work with the courts to provide robust alternative to custody community penalties to further reduce the use of custody.

First time entrants (FTEs) to the Youth Justice System aged 10–17 (National Indicator)

Slough YOT exceeded the set target by 9 entrants this year, showing a steady improvement over the last 2 years. The YOT has a strong Prevention Team who work with identified young people in the YOT, and also undertake outreach work in local schools to ensure that we continue to reduce the numbers of FTE into the system. Partnership working also supported this agenda.

Young offenders engagement in suitable Education, Employment or Training (Local Indicator)

Slough YOT did not achieve its target in this area with all young people ending their Orders being in Education, Employment or Training (EET). Young people above school statutory age made up 71% (60 of 84) of the total cohort with 42% (25 of 60) being in ETE at the end of their Order. Reasons for this included: complex care needs, Looked After Children who were placed out of area, entrenched offending behaviour, not being job-ready, lacking required qualification for college entrance and not having ‘soft skills’ to retain employment. Of the young people of statutory school age (29%, 24 of 84), that made up the cohort, 75% (18 of 24) were in ETE at the end of their Order. Slough YOT continue to provide a weekly job club, regular Rapid English sessions as well as making referrals to the HITZ programme for those on benefits.

Young offenders access to suitable accommodation (Local Indicator)

Once again Slough YOT exceeded its target this year and has maintained its high performance level of 98.8% for 2 years running. Staff endeavour to find placements which are safe, secure and meet young people’s needs.

BME composition of offenders on Youth Justice System disposals (Local Indicator)

This indicator is now only reported annually unless there is cause for concern during the year. This year there has been an overall improvement of 5.5% in BME figures when compared with last year; from 56.9% to 51.4%. The Slough 10-17 year old census figure for BME is 63.3% hence Slough YOT exceeded its target by 11.9%. Further breakdown showed that the biggest change was within the mixed heritage cohort with an improvement of 4.8%; from 11.5% last year to 6.7% this year. However, there is an increase of 5.5% within the white heritage cohort; from 43.1% to 48.6%. Slough continues to monitor this new change, and fluctuations, for trends and patterns.

Table 1: Key Performance Indicators 2014-2015

NI Description 2014/15
 DOT
Targets
19 Rate of proven re-offending by young offenders 33.1%
      ↑
<15.49
43 Young people within the Youth Justice System receiving a conviction in court who are sentenced to custody

8.3%

      ↓
low is good
111 First time entrants to the Youth Justice System aged 10–17 53
      ↓
 <62
45 Young offenders engagement in suitable education, employment or training 51.2%
      ↓
>70%
46 Young offenders access to suitable accommodation 98.8%

      ↑

95%

National and local strategies (current best practices)

National Strategy

Following the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) were established in all local government areas in England and Wales

In 2013, the Government policy paper on youth offending outlined the key actions as:
  • setting up Secure Colleges to treat a young person’s time in custody as education with detention, rather than detention with education as an afterthought
  • simplifying youth sentences and making them more effective at rehabilitating
  • increasing the use of ‘restorative justice’ approaches where victims are able to explain the impact an offence has caused
  • reducing the use of remand in custody for young people, and gradually making local councils responsible for the cost of remand

Local activity

Slough YOT continues to strive towards the vision of Helping Everyone Live Positively (HELP), working in a holistic manner, putting the child at the centre and encompassing the family. A recent inspection of Youth Offending Work in Slough is available here.

Training and employment

While acknowledging that children and young people not in education, training or employment continues to be a challenge Slough YOT seeks to change this and therefore re-started a partnership job club August 2014 which is slowly growing and utilising different methods of engaging young people such as the online Employability Town Learning Business case resource which supports preparation for, and obtaining, employment.

Since 2013 young people who have been involved with Slough YOT have been referred to the apprenticeship scheme run by Slough Borough Council (SBC), and a year on, 3 young people are still employed with SBC.

Retail Theft Initiative

In November 2014 Slough YOT introduced a pilot Retail Theft Initiative where young people who had received an instant Youth Restorative Disposal (YRD) were given the opportunity to engage in sessions at the YOT in order to reduce the risk of re-offending. Engagement over the four month trial was excellent with all 12 participants engaging in a voluntary programme of at least 1 or more sessions. This is an area that will be developed going forward.

Antisocial behaviour, youth violence and gangs

Slough YOT has supported the community by being involved in a local project related to an area of Slough which is currently subject to Anti Social Behaviour (ASB) and Serious Youth violence/Gangs within their community. This Project involves the YOT working with partners including Thames Valley Police (TVP), Housing, Youth Service, Slough Get Activ and Youth Engagement Service/Aik Saath. Going forward this project aims to increase public confidence by targeting prolific offenders and reduce the number of reported ASB incidents. The YOT will be able to deliver robust targeted Interventions to those young people on statutory court orders or preventative Interventions to those identified as at risk of becoming involved in ASB or crime within the community.

Voluntary and third sector work

The YOT commissioned and delivered Foundation Training, Restorative Justice Panel Matters and appropriate adult training to 9 new volunteers over the past year. Slough YOT re-commissioned Foundation 4 Life, criminal justice programme provider, to deliver an Offending Behaviour programme to young people from both Preventative and Statutory strands. This followed an evaluation of this resource which highlighted that the re-offending rate of young people who participated in this programme was low/non-existent. Work with Aik Saath, a local charity, has been particularly promising over the last 12 months where young people have completed their reparation and have continued to support Aik Saath post the completion of their order.

Giving back to the community

Slough YOT is involved in enabling and encouraging young people to ‘give something back to the community’ be it via participating in restorative justice or reparation. Placements include Britwell Community Centre where young people help maintain the grounds and an allotment (which not only enables young people to learn about growing, healthy lifestyles etc but also enables the produce grown to be given to the local food bank.

As previously mentioned Slough YOT has also worked in partnership with Aik Saath and 6 young people have assisted at a community local Youth Café and Volunteer Evening, organising activities and events. A particular success is that some of these young people have continued to support this project after their reparation hours have been completed. In respect of Restorative Justice delivery, the Victims Worker has, where appropriate, continued to facilitate restorative justice conferences and feedback from participants has been positive.

What is this telling us?

There are fewer young people offending, and fewer offences being committed by young people in Slough than there were three years ago. Despite this, those that do offend are more likely to re-offend than the average rate of re-offending in England.

Much work has been undertaken to secure strong partnerships between Youth Offending Teams and social care, Thames Valley police and other key partners, though continued partnership working is needed to improve rates of re-offending, entering education and training, and to continue protecting children and young people.

What are the key inequalities?

Young people who are in contact with the youth justice system have far more unmet health needs than other children of their age. Children at risk of offending typically also face a range of other challenges including poor educational attainment and literacy, school exclusion, mental health problems, substance misuse, fragmented family relationships and unstable living conditions which may all have an adverse effect on health and wellbeing.

(Source: Healthy Children, Safer Communities)

What are the unmet needs/service gaps?

  • Remaining high rates of re-offending (above the target 15%)
  • Rates of young people entering education or training (EET) not meeting target

Recommendations for consideration by other key organisations:

  • Continue important partnership work with social care safeguarding teams to protect the child or young person
  • Continue partnership working with employers and education to improve training and employment rates among young people at risk of offending

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