19 January 2016: In a recent survey of youth justice staff, 50% of respondents said that they typically spent between half a day and two days per week looking for information on the children and young people they work with – and 22% said they could spend three or more days on this task alone.
The results suggest that some youth justice staff are spending a large percentage of their time simply gathering the information that they need to do their jobs. This is valuable time that they could be spending with young people and their families. The survey was conducted by Capita One at the Youth Justice Convention in November 2015. Respondents included staff from many of the different services that come in to contact with young people, including youth workers, youth offending teams and the police.
Mark Raeburn, director at Capita One, said: “Our survey suggests that more could be done to help free staff from unnecessary administration so they can focus on helping the vulnerable individuals who rely on the support and guidance they provide.
“We live in a world where advances in technology have made it possible for the most up-to-date information on children, young people and their families to be put into the hands of those who need it. This would give youth offending teams and other staff more time to focus on making decisions that will improve outcomes for the young people they are involved with.”
Half of the youth justice workers who completed the survey also revealed that they are currently unable to get information relating to a young person’s schooling from their current IT systems. They indicated that they did not have easy access to other key information too, such as notes on special educational needs (42%) and details of social care involvement (23%) with the family, meaning vital clues to what help is required could be being missed.
Below are some other interesting findings from the survey:
• 19% of youth justice staff who responded said they were unable to get sentencing histories for the young people they were involved with from their current computer systems.
• 15% said they could not access details of a young person’s previous convictions on their systems. These figures suggest that teams are spending time searching for information when they could be supporting vulnerable young people and their families.
• 47% of respondents said that staff workloads were the biggest challenge they currently face, which indicates that youth justice workers would benefit from a cut in unnecessary administration.
Mark Raeburn concluded: “There is a wealth of information being recorded by schools and other services that could have a major impact on the judicial decisions being made relating to children and young people. Our survey results suggest that more needs to be done to make a broader range of data available to youth justice workers.
“These staff need to know quickly that a young person they are working with has a history of exclusion for violence, difficulties with their mental health or complex special educational needs, for example. Details such as this will not only enable more informed decisions to be made for those young people who have already entered the youth justice system, they can also help shape effective early help strategies to address the issues that lead to youth crime.”
To view an infographic of these survey results, please click here.