Youth Offending Service
Who are we?
The Blaenau Gwent & Caerphilly Youth Offending Service (YOS) works with 8–17 year olds at risk of, or involved in offending behaviour.
Locally, the service brings together staff from a wide range of organisations including the local authority, police, probation, health, and education. By working together, sharing knowledge, skills and experience, the YOS aims to help young people make the right life choices and reduce offending by young people.
The YOS also works in partnership to address anti-social behaviour. It recognises the adverse impact anti-social behaviour can have on everyone in a community – both adults and children – and the importance of addressing such behaviour.
Integral to the work of the YOS is the encouragement of young people to take responsibility for their actions by acknowledging the harm caused to others and offering a means of putting things right.
Early Support (Prevention)
Youth Inclusion and Support Panel (YISP)
One of the most effective ways to reduce crime is to prevent young people from getting into trouble in the first place. The YOS works with 8 - 15 year olds who are at risk of offending via YISP. Programmes are offered to support children and families for a maximum of 6 months. Teachers, police officers, GPs, social workers or staff from mainstream, voluntary or community groups can make referrals to YISP.
There is also the Promise Project that works with local young people aged 10-17 who have committed acts of anti social behaviour. The project aims to provide mentors for young people via a recruitment and training programme for community volunteers in order to divert young people away from antisocial behaviour. Referrals to the project are made by the local community safety partnerships.
Restorative Justice Disposal (RJD)
Young people aged 10 – 17 who have offended for the first time are referred to the YOS to complete an RJD. The RJD provides an opportunity for young people to meet with the victims of their crimes in order to repair the damage caused and work on the factors that led to the offending behaviour. Successful completion of a RJD allows the police to take no further action resulting in young people not having a criminal record at this stage. Referrals are made by police officers.
Pre Court Services
Young people who go on to commit further, less serious offences, which do not require decisions to be made by the courts, are dealt with by a bureau system. At bureau, police, community volunteers and YOS staff decide on the best outcomes to manage a young person’s behaviour in the community and prevent further offending. The options available at bureau are Youth Cautions and Youth Conditional Cautions but the police officer can also use discretion to charge the young person to court.
Supervision in the community
Where a young person is before a court charged with a criminal offence and pleads guilty, the Court can impose a Referral Order. The young person is then required to attend a Referral Order panel with their parents/guardian. Three volunteers lead the Referral Order panel from the local community along with a member of the YOS. Under the order the young person agrees a contract, which can include reparation to the victim as well as undertaking a programme of interventions and activities to address their offending behaviour. Referral Orders may last for between 3 to 12 months. The conviction is ‘spent’ once the contract has been successfully completed.
Youth Rehabilitation Orders (YRO)
Young people under the age of 18 years can be given a YRO at Court, which may last up to 3 years. The YRO can also contain one or more requirements, which will be decided by the Court following an assessment undertaken by the YOS. The YRO will include how many times the young person must meet with the YOS. The YOS worker will help the young person to understand what they are required to do, will assist them and support them to complete their Order. Much of the work will be about helping the young person to think about their behaviour, the harm their offending has caused to a victim. The YOS worker will also help the young person deal with problems and difficulties. Assisting a young person to access education, training or employment is also very important as this can help steer them away from offending behaviour.
Intensive Supervision and Surveillance (ISS)
Some young people require ISS to help prevent them from further offending. A YRO with ISS is usually given to young people who continue to offend, or as an alternative to custody (prison). The young person is supervised for 25 hours a week for the first 3 months and is also subject to an electronic curfew (tag around the ankle) and must remain at home between certain hours.
There are 2 types of custodial sentences; a Detention and Training Order (DTO), which can be from 4 months and up to 2 years in length, or a Section 91/92 Order, which can be 2 years and more; this Order is only imposed in a Crown Court and is given for very serious offences. Young people would serve the first half of a DTO or Section 91/92 Order in custody and the remaining months in the community “on licence” and being supervised by the YOS. The YOS works closely with the Prison and Secure Estate in supporting young people who receive custodial sentences. The YOS regularly visit the young people and hold meetings with staff, young people and their families to plan programmes of work whilst they are “inside” and also planning for release. It is important that all the good progress that is made whilst in custody is continued upon release, therefore we work with the young person, their families and other agencies in getting young people back into education, training or employment, and supporting them in not committing further offences as part of the YOS resettlement plans.
The YOS provide a range of services for parents/carers of young people that are involved with the YOS across all of its services. The YOS also works with partnership agencies to ensure that family support can be accessed across both counties from a variety of different organisations to provide sustainable ongoing support.
The YOS runs voluntary parenting programmes, either stand-alone or as part of other projects, to help parents improve their skills in dealing with their children’s behaviour and thereby reduces the risk of offending or re-offending. The programmes give parents and carers individual advice and practical support in handling the behaviour of their children, setting appropriate boundaries and improving communication.
Improving the parenting skills of parents and carers has been shown to be very successful in reducing the risk of young people offending or re-offending and also helps to prevent younger siblings being drawn into offending.
If the YOS assesses that young people and their families would benefit from a parenting programme, but the parents or carers are not willing to take part, the YOS can apply to the courts for a Parenting Order which compels the parents/carers of a child at risk to participate.
Supporting victims of youth crime
The YOS takes into account victims needs and concerns in all their interactions with victims and the service they deliver.
The YOS operates within the principles of Restorative Justice. Wherever possible and appropriate, all victims of crime committed by young people will be given the opportunity to be involved in Restorative Justice processes. In accordance with relevant legislation and guidance, all victims will be contacted by the YOS Victim Liaison Officers (VLO’s) to ascertain their wishes and feelings, update them on the crime committed against them and offer restorative justice interventions.
Victims involvement is voluntary and made on an informed basis, with adequate information and support being given by YOS victim liaison staff, or from any other supportive agency e.g. Victim Support.
It is the aim of the YOS that victims of youth crime by young people feel empowered by their experience in any Restorative Justice processes. It is hoped that their wishes and feelings being expressed will support staff in enabling young people to recognise the consequences of their actions, to prevent further crime and the creation of further victims.
The YOS works in partnership with local agencies to provide a number of initiatives to support and enable young people to raise their awareness and understanding of risky behaviours whilst also increasing their self-esteem and self-confidence. Most of the projects run by the YOS are educational and enhance the skills and knowledge of the young people they work with.
A multi-agency event that helps to highlight how anti-social behaviour affects the community and the consequences of getting involved in that behaviour”
Pippins Art Project
A creative art project for children and young people that provides an experience that has a positive impact on their social skills, levels of self-confidence and artistic enthusiasm.
Licence To Kill
Young people who attend the awareness day are shown the potential effects of stealing and driving away cars. They are also shown the impact such incidents have on the emergency services. A car crash scene is reconstructed which demonstrates the potentially fatal consequences of getting involved in vehicle crime. A victim also explains the impact of such crime from their own experience.
The Phoenix Project is a Fire and Rescue initiative aimed at young people between the ages of 11- 25. The aim of the project is to address issues within young people ranging from low self esteem and lack of confidence to anti social behaviour and /or fire related problems such as deliberate fire setting and hoax calls. Phoenix challenges existing attitudes and promotes independent thinking in young people by using fire service activities to develop personal attributes such as working as a team, exploring physical and mental limits and promoting and educating young people about the role of the fire and rescue service.
Construction Skills Certificate Scheme (CSCS)
To aid young people aged 16+ to find meaningful employment the YOS supports young people in applying for the CSCS card. The CSCS card provides proof that individuals working on construction sites have the required training and qualifications.
Volunteers are an essential part of the YOS and they recruit and train up to 80 volunteers every year for a variety of roles. Volunteers not only assist the YOS in supporting young people, their families and the victims of offending behaviour but they also support the YOS undertaking work in the communities they live in. Volunteers are currently recruited by the YOS in the following areas: Mentoring, Community Panel Members, Appropriate Adults, Reparation Supervisors, Bureau community representatives and Restorative Justice conferencing.
To apply to become a volunteer please contact the Youth Offending Service