Staffordshire’s Youth Offending Service prevention project is focused on identifying those children and young people who face much poorer outcomes than their counterparts and intervening early with bespoke projects to help them thrive.
This is a universal service which is part funded by the office of the police commissioner (OPCC) on a three year basis. Staffordshire’s children’s services provide additional funding for the prevention service.
Staffordshire’s Youth Offending Service (YOS) is required to report on national statistics, as well as into local governance for safeguarding, youth justice and early help. The lead for the YOS reports directly into the strategic lead for safeguarding. The OPCC requires an annual report provided by Staffordshire YOS detailing the activities undertaken by the youth crime prevention workers and how the work straddles other strategic plans across partnerships.
Any independent longitudinal studies would help the development and raise the profile of the need for prevention and early intervention as a core priority to reduce cost pressures on targeted tier three and four services, and to provide an evidence base for efficiencies.
To reduce first time offending entrants and reoffending rates in-line with Staffordshire’s re-offending strategy. It is also part of Staffordshire’s Youth Crime Prevention Strategic Plan which needs to be reviewed following a service review.
The Youth Offending Service sits under Staffordshire’s Children Young People and Families Directorate. The YOS is governed by a statutory partnership board as required under section 38 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
The Director of Children Young People and Families attends Staffordshire Safeguarding Partnership.
The service meets the requirements of Staffordshire’s Building Resilient Families and Communities (BRFC) programme, the Reducing Re-Offending Strategy under the OPCC, Staffordshire County Council’s provisions for early help and NHS England priorities:
- to work effectively with partners to improve outcomes for children and young people
- to ensure children and young people receive appropriate education to meet their individual needs
to ensure children and young people’s health needs are met.
The Staffordshire and Stoke JSNA 2017 identifies that across the area as a whole there are outcome inequalities. Some cohorts of children, eg those from deprived communities, those with disabilities and children who are looked after, as we know, face much poorer outcomes than their counterparts, and these children often during their life course have a greater chance of ending up in youth offending services or services aimed to support or prevent risky behaviours.
This project is focused on identifying these young people and intervening early with bespoke projects that tackle misconceptions, perceptions, resilience, skills for life and access to appropriate health focused therapies or interventions.
The four JSNA key priority themes core to the planning and development of this service offer are:
- supporting place-based planning
- achieving and contributing
- being healthy and happy
- feeling safe and belonging.
These are the building blocks to creating functioning asset based communities. There are a number of geographical locations in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent where children and families live in communities facing multiple issues such as unemployment or low incomes, low educational attainment, poor housing and poor health and wellbeing (physical and/or mental), and generational offending behaviours These areas require particular focus and an integrated local partnership response that promotes prevention and early intervention that reduces the risk of negative outcomes, or tackles problems before they escalate. Trend analysis allows us to look at the capacity we have as a team and where to direct it for greatest impact.
Educational attainment and participation in further work-based training or employment in Staffordshire continues to improve. However there remain key inequalities in educational attainment which are determined largely by socio-economic factors and the environment in which these families live, as well as the quality of education these children receive, resulting in an increased risk of exclusion from the labour market, future deprivation and poor health and wellbeing outcomes. This project targets children in schools; and identifies trends in certain areas or schools working with the local stakeholders to build targeted bespoke prevention programmes, ie areas in the borough such as Cannock have high numbers of looked after children and re-offenders who require person centered approaches tailored to specific needs.
Teenage pregnancy rates in Stoke-on-Trent and Tamworth remain higher than average. There are also large numbers of children, particularly from deprived communities, who have unhealthy lifestyles as defined by the kind of food they eat, their levels of physical activity and their attitude to risky behaviour. The number of children who have unplanned hospital admissions are higher than average, particularly for respiratory conditions, accidents and injuries and self-harm admissions.
This service is aligned to the local response to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), the Early Help Partnership outcomes for prevention and early intervention and school targets for attendance as well as the universal YOS service priorities in reducing first time offending and reoffending targets.
Outcomes and priorities to improve the joined-up approach between social care and health, mental health and physical health targets are also addressed as part of the school age children’s early intervention programme.
Priorities for 2018/19 continue to be the reduction in inequalities in children’s health, care and wellbeing outcomes, reduction of hospital admissions, tackling unhealthy lifestyles and risk taking behaviours, decreasing the levels of self-harm admissions amongst young people and decreasing the demands at safeguarding front door.
Progressive prevention programmes, such as the work the YOS workers (all ACEs aware and trained) in this programme deliver, build the capacity and skills of staff in universal services to manage with the confidence low risk issues and build skills and resilience, without the need for more high cost specialist intervention. This directly delivers against the core outcomes above.
The service is fully integrated as part of the universal YOS team and therefore interacts with all core services who deliver an offer to children and young people and their families, both universal and targeted approaches:
- children’s social care – safeguarding/child protection, children in care teams, family support, Troubled Families
- child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)
- schools and alternative education providers including pupil referral units), special educational needs advisory service and the voluntary and community sector education providers
- police, Probation and courts
- fire service
- children’s centres and early years providers
- health, A&E and primary care, ie G.Ps where appropriate
- voluntary and community sector targeted providers
- sports and leisure providers including Sport England, etc
- commissioners – clinical commissioning groups, etc
- children’s residential care homes – there is work that is being done in relation to this cohort of children and
Target service users
The service is targeted at any young person with a risk of offending or reoffending.
Aims for service users
The service works with children and young people and does not refer to beneficiaries as service users. The dots were not being joined up between agencies. Police identified children and young people who were committing anti-social behaviour in the community and committing low level offences, thus under the LASPOA framework. YOS has worked in partnership with Staffordshire Police to deliver preventative programmes to effectively keep children and young people out of the criminal justice system.
Young people who do not meet the threshold requirements for targeted interventions but need a targeted intervention to prevent escalation. In 2008 we had the Youth Inclusion and Support Project model, local authority, LS teams, voluntary and community sector agencies such as Troubled Families and CAMHS who could all refer young people on the cusp of committing offending behaviour and were at risk of offending. The aim with this current programme is that it is a bolt on to the YOS where a young person does not have to have a history of offending to be supported. The core aim of the service is to intervene in the lives of these children and young people and their families, engage them, build trust and support them to learn the skills and competences to change their projected life course. Through information sharing, experiential learning, assessment/ self-assessment and review, the project aims to show children and young people that with different choices, made from an informed position, they can experience different outcomes and opportunities. It is essential that for this approach to work as effectively as possible, parents and care givers engage and support this process. However, it is not essential to all success as through newly built resilience older young people can move away from the lived experience of damaging environments.
Head of Youth Offending Service
- Team Manager
- North Team Youth Crime Prevention Workers x 2 (district borough staff)
- South West Team – there used to be two Youth Crime Prevention Workers, but we do not have any in this team now.
- South East Team – Youth Crime Prevention Workers x 2
- Area teams – social care
- Community fire stations
- Pupil referral unit’s seven other alternative provisions
- Children’s centres
- Family homes
All work is delivered on an assertive outreach model and working in partnership with voluntary and community services and other stakeholders could bring added value and essential capability, with continued investment and commitment. Mutual benefit through partnership could enable resources to be pooled and shared, locations, activities staffing and specialist funded provision for division and engagement activities, such as the prevention through sport programmes delivered by Burton Albion, Stoke City or Port Vale.
Staffordshire is substantially more rural than England overall, with 24 per cent of the population living in rural areas, compared to 17 per cent of the national population. Around 11 per cent of children and young people across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are from an ethnic minority group. This varies from 3 per cent in Staffordshire Moorlands to around 20 per cent in East Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent. Based on the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015, Staffordshire is an relatively affluent area but has notable pockets of high deprivation in some of its urban areas with 9 per cent of its population living in the fifth most deprived areas nationally. In addition some of the remote rural areas in Staffordshire have issues with hidden deprivation, particularly around access to services. The YOS team cover Staffordshire, not Stoke on Trent, which has a separate team funded by OPCC. (Source: 2014-based population projections, Office for National Statistics, Crown copyright)
The majority of referrals come from early help assessments through schools or the police, mainly police community support officers. The referral process is open access so children, young people and family members can refer, so can the voluntary and community sector and other agencies with appropriate consent. It would be really effective to our prevention agenda if we had the capacity in the service to promote it to primary care, CAMHS and other referral sources.
Threshold and capacity
The programme is not as intensive as a youth order and therefore each YOS youth crime prevention worker’s case load is 20. In total there are five staff and therefore approximately 100 cases at any one time.
Over the course of a 12 month period it is very difficult to measure the capacity of impact on service users because this is dependent on the intervention groups or audiences who can be informed and supported through the programme.
There is the possibility of doing a couple of assemblies per term, each with a couple of hundred pupils. Workshops and groups can hold up to 30 pupils each, and parent evenings can see us talking to 40 or 50 parents a time.
The overall aim is to reduce the numbers coming in to the criminal justice system.
Work with service users
The prevention programme is developed to become part of the personal, health and social education (PHSE) curriculum in schools. It delivers as group workshops, assemblies, lesson structures or 1-2-1 support with a child, young person and their family whenever possible. The programme works with specialist providers, from voluntary and community sector or other statutory/private sectors and covers issues such as exploitation, including sexual exploitation, bullying, sexting, self-image, knives, gangs and a myth busting topic that challenges perceptions around the law, carrying a knife and social media. It also runs open evenings for parents and carers or other family members.
The YOS team will meet children or young people on request of their school or other professional workers and can produce a bespoke 1-2-1 package of support that is person centered and allows transition and step up or down into appropriate pathway support, or alternatively leaves a young person more resilient to manage and recognise risk and make healthier choices.
Schools are encouraged to invite YOS youth crime prevention workers as cooperation with school is essential. Some schools are very supportive, others can be more difficult if they do not see the benefits. Building relationships of trust are really important and should never be underestimated. YOS youth crime prevention workers need to attend headteacher forums to promote the benefits of the service and children and young people panels to ensure that the offer is made to keep a child in school with support whenever possible. It is also essential to negotiate a return to school interview following an step up requirement.
Step up and step down arrangements are in place and very much determined by the baseline assessment and need of the young person. Step up might be core to the YOS prevention package, into a judicial process, through a multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) panel on a crime prevention order/section or into CAMHS.
Step down could be a back into universal education offer, a less targeted approach in a pupil referral unit, or back into school with support from a pupil referral unit. It could be through a transition programme into Year 7 from primary school, onto a personal and social development programme with a voluntary and community or charitable programme working alongside school, in a less targeted approach. Stepping down back into family life with improved understanding or communication between family member, siblings, parents or carers is also a strong positive outcome for change.
Performance indicators/target outcomes
- Crime reduction; reducing first time entrants
- Reducing re-offending
- Delivered restorative justice interventions
- Crime prevention group work with schools; contribution to PHSE enrichment days
The main performance indicator is to reduce the numbers of first time entrants (FTE).
Achievements to date
Year-on-year reductions in FTE, with Staffordshire performing well against national and local comparators to date.
The key piece of learning is the importance of the trusted adult having capacity and time to build a relationship with the child or young person and their family to enable change.
The one-to-one prevention programme has been running in its current form for six years and the schools programme for three years.
We are looking to use intelligence to inform the schools we target and to work better at being the direct referral route before school exclusion is considered. We are also looking to work more directly with pupil referral units across Staffordshire.
We would also now like to link in better to anti-social behaviour forums and provide support before a criminal anti- social order is considered. The YOS and youth crime prevention workers already work closely with anti-social behaviour forums. We want to extend this improved partnership working with local support teams and to continue to develop the schools programme more widely than orth Staffordshire.
Hazel Williamson - Head of Youth Offending Service, Staffordshire County Council
Nicki Moss - Area Youth Offending Service Manager