The stands may have all been dismantled and taken home, but the issues raised at the 2015 Youth Justice Convention will continue to resonate amongst all those working with young people in the youth justice system.
The convention, held in November, brought together those working in the sector, from youth support services to youth offending teams to magistrates and representatives from local police forces. The two days featured insightful speakers and lively debates, with delegates sharing best practice and discussing the latest youth justice policy developments.
Reducing the number of looked after young people in the youth justice system
A key theme of the convention was the issue of the significant over-representation of looked after children in the youth offending team client base. Looked after children are more often, and earlier, criminalised than young people who live with their families, with the journey of a looked after young person accelerated through the youth justice system much faster than for other young people.
The Prison Reform Trust set up an independent review panel in June to examine these issues and look at what can be done to reduce the number of looked after young people in the youth justice system. Their review includes a broader investigation into what happens before these young people reach the youth justice system and the door of a youth offending team.
At the convention, the review panel provided a comments box, manned by a member of the panel, so that attendees could submit their views and experiences. These responses will be fed into the other evidence being collected from practitioners as part of the review, due to report back in 2016.
Better support for looked-after young people when teams have the complete picture
The convention was insightful and informative, and I was privileged to be part of the Capita One team at the event, where we had the opportunity to talk about the challenges in youth justice today with representatives from a range of different youth justice settings, including youth offending teams, secure establishments, the voluntary and charity sector and the YJB itself.
There was a buzz of interest on our stand around our innovative One Youth solution, which, by providing a more complete picture of the young person and their circumstances, is already enabling local authority teams to identify young people at risk of offending as soon as possible. They are then able to conduct early intervention work to prevent those young people from entering the youth justice system.
A unique case management system that works across departments
The One Youth solution is completely unique in being fully integrated, supporting all the teams that work with young people. One enables local authorities to share Looked After status information, school history, attendance and exclusion records, SEN details and professional interactions between relevant children’s services teams, including Youth Services (IYSS), Targeted Youth Support (TYS) and Youth Offending teams (YJ).
Of course, it’s not just about enabling local authorities to better support young people not to enter the youth justice system. It’s also about supporting young people already there. When a young person is referred to a youth offending team, if the practitioner has all they need to know at that point, including any prior contact between the young person and other local authority teams, the practitioner is better informed to take effective early decisions on next steps to help slow that young person’s journey through the youth justice system.
Find out more about our Youth solution.