Skip header

Youth Justice Service: Specialist services

Young people involved in anti-social behaviour and offending have a range of problems which need to be dealt with if the young people are to reach their potential. Part of our work involves identifying these problems so that an appropriate intervention can be made.

Our Specialist Services team possesses the knowledge and experience to help young people deal with a range of health needs, concerns about education, training and employment, and substance misuse issues.

We can also challenge their attitudes to offending through group work programmes and help them make better use of their free time by taking part in constructive activities.


Education and employment, mentoring

Education is critical for a young person's life chances. Young people who don't attend school are three times more likely to offend compared to those who do. There is a direct link between time lost from education and crime in later life - a third of all prisoners were regularly absent from school and half of all male prisoners were excluded from school.

We have demanding targets for school attendance - 90% of all young people in contact with us should have access to a full-time placement in education, training or employment. To work towards this we employ staff specifically to work on educational and careers issues, providing information, advice and guidance to young people in the 13-19 age range on personal development, employment and training opportunities. The aim is to remove barriers to learning and progression, and ensure a smooth transition from school to working life.

These officers work closely with YOS staff to provide educational support, trying to identify as early as possible young people struggling with their behaviour or attendance. These are important links between the youth offending and education systems, particularly for young people who are serving or have served a custodial sentence, since time in custody can severely disrupt a young person's education.

South Tyneside Mentoring Scheme and The SandWriter Project were both mentoring schemes within South Tyneside Youth Offending Service (YOS). In 2004 they merged to form The Sand Writer Mentoring Project. This scheme trains people from the local community to work as volunteer mentors. Once trained, they are matched with a young person aged between 8 and 18 years old. Often referred by the YOS, many of these young people have offended, or are considered to be at risk of offending.

Mentors:

  • come from all walks of life
  • have time to spare
  • have a genuine interest in young people
  • are over 18 years old
  • understand the importance of confidentiality
  • are committed to supervision and support
  • value training and self-development
  • usually spend at least one year with the project
  • are non-judgemental
  • are respectful toward young people
  • can communicate effectively with others
  • obtain a Criminal Records Bureau enhanced disclosure certificate

Training:

  • Communication Skills
  • The Mentoring Framework
  • Equality and Diversity
  • Prejudice Awareness
  • Stages of Adolescence
  • Basic Skills Awareness
  • Child Protection
  • Sexual Health
  • Drug and Alcohol Awareness
  • First Aid

Contact
If you are interested in supporting a young person to make positive changes in their life, consider applying to be a volunteer mentor.

Northern Learning Trust
Sand writer Mentoring Project
110 Fowler Street
South Shields
Tyne and Wear
NE33 1PZ

Telephone
(0191) 420 3547

Email enquiries@northernlearningtrust.org.uk


Group work

Young people are assessed to see if they are suitable for group or one-to-one sessions, and then attend sessions related to their offence. When they have completed the sessions they are reassessed to see if further work is required. The main programme covers general offending and we work with a range of partners to deliver sessions:

  • South Tyneside Fire and Rescue service
  • Sexual Health service
  • South Tyneside Council Services for Young People
  • Driving Standards Agency
  • Northumbria Police

The Youth Offending Service is dedicated to providing a high level of support to young people and to reducing the level of re-offending.


Mental health

Better outcomes for children, young people and their families is at the centre of everything we do. The YOS helps the young people they work with to get access to the right provision for physical, sexual, emotional and mental health. An example of this is the Senior Mental Health Practitioner that our local Primary Care Trust employ within the YOS to provide consultation, advice and support to YOS colleagues. They also provide an assessment service for young people referred by YOS staff. The Practitioner is part of the wider CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service), acting as a link between the YOS and the NHS.


Parenting

Parents are carers, guardians and role models for their children and their behaviour is more influential than anything else as the child grows up. The central role of the parent places a unique responsibility on them. 

Poor parenting can significantly increase the risk of young people becoming involved in anti-social or offending behaviour but bringing up children can be very difficult. Teenage years especially can be a stressful period and it can be even harder for parents when their child commits an offence. We offer advice and support and provide courses to help you better manage your relationship with your child. This can be done on a voluntary basis, without a court making an order.

We also invite parents to enter a Parenting Contract as a way of providing support to the family, for example if there are problems with a child being involved in anti-social behaviour. Where improved parenting could be beneficial but the parents are unwilling to engage, the courts can impose a Parenting Order.


Restorative justice

We have found that one of the best ways to discourage young people from committing further crime is to make them face the consequences of their actions and the harm caused. Victim participation is always voluntary, and offenders need to have admitted some responsibility. This can lead to the offender making reparation - either to the victim or the wider community. There are two types:

Indirect - the offender and victim do not meet face to face, but communicate through someone else or in writing.

Direct - with the help of a facilitator, this can be between just the victim and the offender or it may involve a conference with supporters for victim and offender attending. Community representatives may attend if appropriate.

Restorative justice can help people find local solutions to local problems and  build stronger, more cohesive communities. Residents can be volunteer facilitators, make suggestions for local restorative projects or act as supporters for victims and offenders. Restorative justice holds offenders to account, allowing them to take responsibility for their actions and identify steps to help them stop offending. Many victims have found that becoming involved in the criminal justice process helps them deal with their anxiety and the anger following the crime. Telling the offender what you have suffered and gone through can help you feel better and help put the memory behind you.

3 key elements form the basis of restorative justice in practice.

  • Responsibility - holding young people to account for their actions and  encouraging the development of more responsible behaviour
  • Restoration - exploring how to make amends - to victims crime or to the community in general i.e. reparation
  • Re-integration - seeking to provide support, assistance and guidance so that young people grow into law abiding adults.

There are several models of restorative justice: are being developed:

  • Victim consultation - gives official recognition that victims have suffered an injustice and are entitled to have their views taken into consideration.
  • Victim support or assistance - more usually provided by victim support agencies; is restorative in nature as the victims draw a line under the offence.
  • Letters of apology - where sincere and sensitively presented, such apologies allow offenders to show remorse and accept responsibility.
  • Direct reparation to the victim - an apology, financial reparation or practical work to repair damage. Requires consent from all parties and must be supervised at all times.
  • Community reparation - practical reparative work for the benefit of the community, usually where the victim or offender does not consent to other forms of reparation or where there is no identifiable victim.
  • Direct or indirect mediation - which involves dialogue between the offender and victim, either face to face or through a mediator. This must be voluntary and requires the consent of both parties.
  • Family group conferencing - allows a wide group of participants including family members and supporters for offender and victim, who may themselves have been affected by the offence. The participation of others can be significant to recovery or rehabilitation.
  • Community conferencing - similar to family group conferencing but all the work of the conference is done in the presence of the victim.

Substance misuse

The YOS Substance Misuse Worker works with young people when their offending is linked to substance misuse.

Once a young person is referred, a comprehensive assessment is carried out in order to identify needs, and a care plan agreed. The sort of support we do includes education, misuse reduction plans, harm minimisation, relapse prevention and general support work. A nurse also comes carries out a general health assessment, offering advice on general health and things like immunisations and sexual health.

A family support worker is available too for any parents who feel they need advice, information or support regarding their child's substance misuse.


How would you rate the information on this page?

Share this page