Youth Justice Service
In Gateshead, the Youth Justice Service (YJS) is part of the Children Adults and Families Service and is accountable to the Youth Justice Board.
Putting the child at the centre of the work we do is key to understanding how we can best deliver services. We have lots of ways in which we try to get the views of our young people and if discussions with the child from every activity is recorded this will help us to evidence any changes that have been made because of what they have told us.
In difficult financial times there should be more emphasis placed on seeking the views of young people as they are the experts in knowing what works best for them. Listening to young people tell us about the impact of COVID 19 is important as it will help us to develop services that can help them recover from the pandemic.
Gateshead YJS also seeks the views of parents and carers and, victims and volunteers within the community. By making sure that everybody involved in the criminal justice process has a voice, this has enabled us to be able to make decisions on how we develop the service to meet the needs of individuals and local communities alike.
The YJS work with children and young people, from as young as 10 up to 18 years of age, that break the law. These children could have been sentenced by a court or have come to the attention of the police but not been charged. In this case they would have their offending dealt with out of court.
The YJS work with young people to try to help them live better lives and ultimately stay away from crime. With this in mind they:
- help young people at police stations
- provide support at court
- supervise young people on a community sentence
- keep in contact with young people while they're in custody and help them settle back in the community when they leave
- deliver interventions to help young people make different life choices
- seek the views of victims and offer support to meet their needs
There are two main types of youth disposals - out of court and court.
Not all children and young people who commit a crime will end up in court. In less serious cases, young people will be given an out of court disposal. Youth justice services will then work with many of these children to reduce the risk of them offending again.
Youth conditional caution
This is a formal notice issued by the police. It 'cautions' the young person not to offend again and explains the possible consequences of doing so. A Youth Conditional Caution carries requirements that the young person must adhere to.
As above but without the requirements.
Professional judgement is used to address the offence in an informal way, often involving the victim.
The aim of Triage is to prevent inappropriate criminalisation of young people for low level offences, and instead delivering restorative interventions
Outcome 22 is a police outcome code which can be used when the police decide to defer prosecution until the accused has been given the opportunity to engage with a intervention activity, which is aimed at keeping them out of the Criminal Justice System
The outcome will be recorded on the Police National Computer as follows:
'Outcome 22 - diversionary, educational or intervention activity, resulting from the crime report, has been undertaken and it is not in the public interest to take any further action'.
Absolute or conditional discharge
If the court decides that a punishment is not needed then the child or young person can be given an absolute discharge, so all action stops there, or a conditional discharge which means they do not receive any further action as long as they do not offend within a set period. The maximum period a conditional discharge can cover is three years.
Referral order 3 - 12 months
A referral order is a contract with a youth referral panel made up of three adults (one from the Youth Justice Service). The young person meets regularly with the panel over the period of the order, which can be between three to twelve months, and will receive help to tackle their offending behaviour and addressing the damage they have caused. These types of orders are only available to those who have offended for the first time.
The size of the fine depends on the seriousness of the offence and the ability to pay. For those under 16 years it is the responsibility of the parent or guardian to pay.
This is where the court orders the young person to do something that makes amends to the victim or the community.
Youth rehabilitation order
This type of sentence carries certain requirements that the young person must complete within the duration of the order (a maximum of three years). This list is not exhaustive but can include (these can be given in combination):
- curfew requirement
- activity requirement such as education
- local authority residence requirement
- supervision requirement
- mental health requirement
- substance misuse requirement
These types of sentences are reserved for the most serious offences. A young person under the age of 18 can be sent to one of three different types of custody:
- secure children's home
- secure training centre
- young offender institution
The type of location is defined by the young person's age, risk and needs. The guidelines for sentencing children and young people produced by the Sentencing Council provides the detail that sentencers must consider when passing sentence.
What is a court?
A legal court is a building. The person in charge of the court says what happens to people who have done something wrong and against the law.
There are different sorts of legal courts:
- A Crown Court - The person in charge is called a Judge.
- A magistrates' court - Sometimes the people in charge are called magistrates. There can be three magistrates working in one courtroom. Sometimes the person in charge is called a district judge. A district judge is trained to work with children and young people.
- A youth court This is a special type of magistrates' court. Young people under 18 years old who may have done something that is wrong and against the law, may go to a youth court.
Getting ready for your court hearing date
- Make sure you have got a solicitor
- After speaking with your solicitor, it is important to the court that you are present at the hearing. It would be good if a parent or carer were to come with you as the court may decide not to sentence you without an appropriate adult present. If you fail to attend, then the court could summons you to attend the next hearing and ultimately a warrant for your arrest could be issued.
- The Law Society website may help you find a solicitor hear your home.
- Please also bring with you any documents given to you at the police station.
- our worker from the YJS will be at court and will be able to explain to you what will happen during the court hearing. If you or your parent/carer are particularly anxious about attending court, please contact your worker and who will arrange for a pre-court visit.
They are rules about what you can do and say inside a courtroom. While you are inside the courtroom you are not allowed to:
- chew gum
- drink alcohol
- take drugs
- play on your phone
- talk when other people are talking - the magistrates or district judge expect young people to 'show them respect'
While in the courtroom, you should try to:
- not wear a hat - if you are wearing a hat, make sure you take it off before going into the court room
- look towards the magistrates or district judge and speak clearly so that you can be heard
- use polite words
Divert from Charge is a new referral process which will no longer see young people being charged by police unless in extreme cases, such as offences that could lead to a remand. Instead these cases are referred through to a panel process before a final decision is reached. YJS Police officers apply an eligibility test which will assess whether an Out of Court option is appropriate. If the young person in question is eligible and willing to engage, they will receive either a Youth Conditional Caution (YCC) or an Outcome 22 (deferred prosecution).
The "Divert from Charge" Panel is a bolt-on to the existing Out of Court Disposal Panels and it has responsibility for:
- deciding on a disposal for each young person
- developing a diversionary plan for them
- reviewing compliance
- and finally closing completed cases or referring a young person to court for non-compliance
There are a number of beneficiaries from the Divert from Charge arrangement.
- young people will not be labelled as offenders, this will help to prevent young people from forming deviant or delinquent identities that may interfere with their development
- it will avoid unnecessary disproportionality in the criminal justice system and tailored diversionary interventions will be therapeutic, targeted, and appropriate whilst avoiding the stigma of conviction
- Criminal Justice Partners and the community also benefit from Divert from Charge as it reduces demand and cost associated with file preparation and court proceedings
- partners are able to support children and young people who would otherwise become repeat and/or more serious offenders
This innovative way of dealing with young people went live in May 2021 and will be reviewed in 6 months to ensure it is working effectively.
Gateshead YJS offers every victim of youth crime a voice. Each victim is contacted by the Victim Liaison Officer to seek their views in relation to the offence and try and understand the impact it has had on them. In line with the Victims Code, Gateshead YJS offers a variety of reparative interventions including direct and indirect programmes. Where it is appropriate victims are offered face to face restorative justice conferences, shuttle mediation and letters of apology.
Reparation is delivered in line with the wishes of victims. There are a number of community-based reparation sites that are used when there is no specific victim request. The services looks to deliver reparation projects with young people that are creative and relevant to the offence committed. Victims are also asked to complete a short survey at the end of their intervention to ascertain their views, understand their experience of the service and to help us improve services in the future.
If a young person commits a crime, they can pay something back to the community for the harm they have caused through engaging in reparation. This can be directly to the person they have harmed or indirectly to their community and this decision is determined through consultation with the victim of the offence.
The Youth Offending Team works on many different and diverse schemes that help the community. In recent schemes, young people have:
- planted and grown fruit and vegetables in our allotment; these are then donated to various care homes and community centres throughout Gateshead
- painted, decorated and contributed to the renovation of community centres and sports clubs in Gateshead
- helped clear litter and graffiti throughout Gateshead
Youth Justice Team
0191 433 5110