Youth Offending Service
- Meeting of Special - Budget Scrutiny, Children and Young People Select Committee, Monday, 31st January, 2022 2.00 pm (Item 3.)
To provide a report on the aims and objectives of the service and to discuss the outcomes for children and young people and the impact of the service.
Chesney Chick delivered the presentation and answered the members’ questions.
How soon do you become aware of potential offenders?
We are a preventative service. There was a shift prior to my joining the team from dealing with people in custodial settings to dealing with people in the community, in a preventative way. We work very closely with our colleagues in children’s services, education and other partner agencies to identify those who might have trigger points – whether they are ACEs or otherwise – that indicate that they might come to our attention. Then, we look at services in collaboration with partners such as the Youth Service, to develop resources within a particular area, if certain issues are starting to arise. If it’s on an individual basis we would look at whether there is an in-house service which could meet that need.
As an example, during the lockdown an increase in domestic violence (child on primary carer) was identified. The information and data available from Monmouthshire and Torfaen children’s services didn’t indicate that that was a problem for us, but realised that they might not have been true figures, given that schools weren’t in. We created 2 posts sitting within children’s services that would help with the process, helping to identify potential cases and try to catch them preventatively.
While in lockdown, did online bullying and influencing rise, and were you able to do anything about it?
There was no data to suggest that there had been an increase but, anecdotally, some stories came through that there was potential for a rise. But nothing came directly to the attention of the Youth Offending Service. However, during the pandemic we used the digital platforms such as Teams to engage with the children that we are involved with, particularly during the summer: we gave them quizzes, for example, send them tasks in the post and then check back in with them to mark them, then give out prizes, etc. The idea was to keep them engaged. We were pleasantly surprised that there was a great uptake in those sessions – some found it easier to engage virtually than they would have done otherwise.
Being a joint service with Torfaen, is there a breakdown of the numbers for each local authority area? Have these changed over time?
Yes, there is a breakdown which we can present at a later date, if the committee wishes. There is a difference between the two areas that are longstanding and haven’t changed throughout the pandemic. It is hard to give specific numbers at this time but typically, for example, if there are 10 from Torfaen the number from Monmouthshire would likely be 5-7. There is an indication that the gap is closing, however. The complexities of the cases remain the same, and the typical root problems remain consistent in the two areas.
Reports to Adults Select suggest that young people who need housing are presenting with more complex needs. They don’t necessarily offend but is there any link between the YOS and housing, and what support is provided regarding complex needs?
Yes, it is well documented that children are coming through with more complex needs, For all cases with which the YOS is involved we have the Resettlement Panel, which looks specifically at our exit strategy, for example, in the case of a child who has been in custody and is returning to the community. Similarly, in a prevention case, for a child who had come to the end of their order the panel would discuss the case to ensure there is the right level of support as they exit our provision. Housing is on that panel, along with Careers Wales, Health, a drugs worker from Engage, and others, to ensure the ongoing package of support in the community is at the right level. We have good working relationships with Housing.
The local authority has a housing responsibility but not necessarily a security or health responsibility with regard to misuse of drugs and complex problems of this nature. They are finding problems in relation to the support available for those extra needs that Registered Social Landlords aren’t able to provide?
Yes. From our perspective, it’s vitally important that through the assessment process, we identify the child’s core need – this can often be masked by other things. Historically, we might have worked on a drug problem that is really an emotional wellbeing/mental health issue. We try to ensure that this is addressed when the package of support is put together.
Thank you for this report. The committee is clearer on how Covid has affected the service – it has been a difficult period for everyone, but particularly for some young people who are in difficult circumstances. It has been useful to hear about the support that families have had during the lockdown. We have discussed prevention, which is key, as we don’t want children who come into the service’s remit moving on to crime as teenagers and young adults. It is heartening to hear about the support that is given.
- YOS report for Children and young People's Select Committee (01), item 3. PDF 318 KB
- Appendix A. LMB members, item 3. PDF 58 KB
- Appendix B. Continuity and Delivery Plan, item 3. PDF 260 KB
- Appendix C- Gwent YOS & Custody, item 3. PDF 104 KB
- Appendix D - Survey Results, item 3. PDF 246 KB
- Appendix E Transition to Recovery Plan, item 3. PDF 229 KB