This page details the different areas of work completed within the youth offending service (YOS)
Duties of a YOT manager:
The role of the YOT manager is not prescribed in legislation but is set out within the original 1998 Interdepartmental Guidance on YOTs. Whilst the grade of the post is not prescribed, the guidance highlights the strategic nature of the role and the need to ensure sufficient seniority: ‘Youth offending team managers should not be "buried" within the management structure of any of the partner agencies; it is essential that they are able to engage, as appropriate, at a senior and strategic level with all the relevant local agencies, including by reporting directly to meetings of the chief officers’ steering group’
The YOT management board is responsible for establishing clear procedures for the YOT Manager to follow. These include ‘clear access as appropriate to the local authority chief executive, if differences between agencies are impeding the work of the youth offending team which cannot be resolved by the manager’.
The key functions of the role are identified as:
- managing staff and resources
- allocating work
- having a say in which staff serve in the YOT
- liaising closely with courts
There are two operations managers in the youth offending service. One is involved with pre-court business and the other with post-court business.
Darlington YOS is committed to sustaining high performance in three key areas:
- first Time Entrants
- recidivism (Re-Offending)
- reduction of the use of custody
The first area is the responsibility of the pre-court operations manager. The third area is the responsibility of the post-court operations manager and the second priority is straddled across both pre and post-court areas.
Operations managers develop, manage and co-ordinate a multi-disciplinary team to ensure delivery of an holistic comprehensive service to young people in the criminal justice system. They assist in the development of and take responsibility for the implementation of performance management and quality assurance systems to ensure local and national performance targets and the objectives of the youth offending service plan are met.
Operations managers have oversight of all cases that pose a risk to the public or have issues around safeguarding. All risk of serious harm and vulnerability assessments have to be signed off by an operations manager which ensures that accountability for these cases lies at YOS management level. All reports that are submitted to the Court are scrutinised by an operations manager to ensure quality and congruence.
Youth offending officers
The youth offending officers aim to provide safe and effective criminal justice services for young people and their families in Darlington. They hold a case load of young people who have been made subject to a pre court outcome following a charge or a court order. The YOS officers are responsible for carrying out an assessment with the young person and their family covering a variety of areas in order to identify risk factors that have led to criminal behaviour. This will include an assessment of risk of re-offending, risk of serious harm and vulnerability. The YOS officer will then meet with the young person and other relevant agencies to agree a plan and set targets to prevent further offending. The YOS officer along with other relevant agencies will have contact with the young person on a regular basis and carry out individual programme of work in line with the plan to address areas such as consequences of offending behaviour, education, training and employment, relationships, accommodation and substance misuse.
Youth offending officers can become involved prior to sentencing at court where the magistrates have requested a report to assist them with sentencing decisions. The YOS officer will arrange an interview with the young person, parent/care and form a report that outlines the offence, information from all agencies working with the young person, an assessment of the young person and an assessment of the victim’s wishes. The YOS Officer will also detail a proposal for sentencing. Youth offending officers will be present in a youth court to provide information to the court, present reports, inform parents/young people about the court process.
YOS officers should ensure that every effort is made to support the young person in successfully completing their order and monitor and manage compliance and enforcement.
Information and support officers
Information and support officers provide business support functions to YOS staff and YOS management in the execution of their duties in relation to pre-court and post-court services. Business processes are in place to ensure that appropriate case records are maintained on the IT client database and routine clerical/administrative tasks are carried out.
The role of the programme coordinator is to ensure that the work completed by young people whilst on orders is appropriate for their offence; their job is to create and buy in resources to use with young people. They will also run and organise group work and provide programmes of work for the court to attach to a young person’s order.
Darlington YOS has taken steps in ensuring that young people receive the most appropriate intervention work during their time on court orders. Over the past year a new innovative system has been implemented, it ensures that assessments lead to appropriate intervention plans and that the work completed by the young person is suited to their learning style and targets the most important areas in their offending behaviour. The attached picture ‘Intervention Collage’ displays a selection of intervention work carried out by the YOS. The materials are delivered both in groups and on a one to one basis. The system and intervention materials produced by Darlington YOS have been commended and utilised by several youth offending services around the country and praised by service inspectors.
YOS police officer
The role of the police officer on the team is to manage pre court and restorative justice disposals. This involves being a case holder, carrying out home visits to assess the young people and their families as well as completing interventions and any appropriate multi agency referrals. In addition to this the officer would facilitate any face to face victim meetings for cases being dealt with via a restorative disposal.
In addition to this, a large part of this role is to provide an intelligence link between YOS and police, ensuring that the correct information is shared between the two agencies in a timely manner.
The restorative justice officer
Restorative processes bring those harmed by crime or conflict and those responsible for the harm into communication, enabling everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.
The role of the restorative justice (RJ) officer is to contact all victims where appropriate to inform them of the young persons order on both pre and post court cases. The RJ officer will inform the victim of what the young persons order involves and take a statement to see how they feel and to understand how they were affected by the incident. The RJ officer will inform the victim of what options are available should they wish to be involved further in the order and make arrangements to carry out any suitable requests.
The restorative justice officer will also meet with the young person to get an understanding of how they feel about the offence since it happened and assess the young person to see what RJ options would be suitable for that individual case.
- restorative conference
- indirect mediation - shuttle
- video link mediation
- victim statement
- letter of apology
- direct reparation
- indirect reparation
If the victim doesn’t wish to participate in restorative justice the RJ Officer will either close the case or keep them informed with progress reports and inform them at the end of the order to whether the young person has completed it successfully or reoffended.
The reparation team
The reparation team in Darlington is responsible for delivering community service type work with young offenders in Darlington. Within the youth justice system this work is known as 'reparation' as the work is primarily aimed at repairing the harm caused by the offence. This work falls into three broad categories:
- direct work for the victim
- work in the community at the request of a specific victim
- general community based Reparation
Doing work direct for the victim is always our preferred choice due to the better outcome for all concerned. Should this not be wanted the victim of an offence would instead be asked what type of work they would like the young person to perform from a list of ongoing projects or to suggest something themselves. All of the work performed will always be for the benefit of a victim or Darlington community as a whole. Examples of past projects can be found on the youth offending service page
Youth offending service specialist nurse
The YOS community nurse is a specialist community public health nurse employed by County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust to work within Darlington's YOS.
The YOS nurse helps ensure that the physical and emotional health needs of young people who come into contact with the YOS are identified and addressed through appropriate health services.
YOS staff will refer any young person for whom they identify any unmet health issues to the nurse, who will then undertake a holistic health assessment and offer advice and support where appropriate. The nurse may act as an advocate for young people to help them access the health services that they require.
Some of the services available include supporting young people with:
- accessing a GP
- registering with a dentist/optician
- sexual health (for example: chlamydia screening, c card and condom provision, pregnancy testing, relationship and sexual heath advice)
- stop smoking support
- support around alcohol and drug use
- general health education and health promotion (for example: advice on healthy lifestyles, exercise and diet)
- emotional and mental health support
- working with families to support them with the health needs of their children
The YOS nurse has links with other professionals within the health service and can refer young people or liaise with their GPs. These links include consultants, school nurses, specialist child and adolescent mental health workers.