Ground-breaking new pilot to prevent young people turning to crime

This story was published 4 July 2019

A new scheme is being piloted in North Yorkshire which aims to work closely with families and other agencies in preventing young people from turning to crime.

Members of our Children and Young People’s Services and Youth Justice Service

North Yorkshire County Council has received the go-ahead from the Government to design and pilot a new process of working with young people who have found themselves in the youth justice system.

Currently, when a child or young person finds themselves at risk of criminality, members of the Youth Justice Service will develop an intervention plan using an assessment called AssetPlus.

Now North Yorkshire County Council’s Youth Justice Service has been selected by the Department for Education to trial an alternative approach to preventing young people becoming vulnerable to offending.

The Government selected five high-performing councils in the country to devise their own youth justice assessment to pilot. 

North Yorkshire County Council, which has been rated Outstanding by Ofsted, was one of those chosen.

Cllr Janet Sanderson, executive member for Children and Young People’s Services, said: “This is an historic opportunity to try a new and innovative approach to improving outcomes for children.

“We hope that ultimately it will not only prevent young people from reoffending, but provide young people with better outcomes by increasing their resilience, self-esteem and attainment.”

Staff with the council have devised a new assessment process, which enables officers to work out of the office, developing risk and safety plans within family networks. 

It is designed to be accessible and easily understood by families, schools, social workers and other professionals working with the young person. 

It also aims to enable Youth Justice Service staff to spend the majority of their time working with children and families, who will become more involved in the process than previously. 

The new system to be piloted in the county has been drawn up by a number of staff with North Yorkshire County Council. One of those involved, frontline social worker, Sam Fugill, said the pilot looked at creating long-term solutions by working with the young person’s wider family. 

He said: “The new assessment allows you draw in and work with a much wider part of the young person’s life. 

“Not only will we work on a training session with a young person to address a certain behaviour, we’ll be spending more time working with families and will place the family as the focus of the work.

“It’s about diverting them away from means of offending and high risk behaviour. But there’s also a much bigger game to be played here, which is about developing their aspirations, motivations and opportunities available to them. That’s a very effective way of managing risk.”

Stuart Carlton, director of Children and Young People’s Services, added: “We also want the priority for our Youth Justice Service to be spending time working with children and families. 

“Staff can spend up to two-thirds of their time on paperwork. This pilot aims to flip that ratio so staff are spending two-thirds of their time working with young people and their families, supporting them to prevent their child turning to crime.”