SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter sets out the framework within which the Youth Justice Service and the Safeguarding and Support Service work together to promote the wellbeing and safeguard children and young people who are involved in, or are at risk of becoming involved in, the youth justice system.
In November 2017, this chapter was updated.
- Introduction and Purpose of Protocol
- Shared Principles
- How we will Work Together
- Looked After Children
- Remands into Local Authority Accommodation
- Remands into Local Authority Accommodation (secure)
- Preventing Offending
- Anti Social Behaviour Injunctions and ABCs
- The Education of Young Offenders
- The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008
- Multi-Agency Support Teams (MAST)
- PACE Beds
- Gangs and Serious Youth Violence
- Children Missing from Care and Home
- Conflict Resolution
1. Introduction and Purpose of Protocol
The purpose of this protocol is to identify the framework within which the Youth Justice Service (YJS) and Safeguarding and Support Service (S&S) manage their respective responsibilities for young people who have offended and those at risk of offending and how they will work together in partnership to ensure children and young people are safeguarded and their involvement in the youth justice system minimised, through effective partnership working.
The protocol seeks to ensure that there are shared objectives particularly in regard to the offending behaviour of children in care of the Council.
S&S and the YJS work within a legislative framework and this protocol takes into account the statutory duties and responsibilities of both Services.
This protocol sets out the governing principles as to how we will work effectively together in relation to the following specific areas: safeguarding, preventing offending, meeting the needs of children in care, children in need and care leavers, remands into local authority accommodation and the education of young offenders. The aim of partnership working is to improve life chances of children and young people at risk of offending and those who are victims of crime, whilst reducing offending and re-offending levels in the borough.
2. Shared Principles
Young people come to the attention of S&S for a variety of reasons, but most referrals can be broadly defined as welfare or justice concerns. Welfare concerns cover issues from child protection to general support to young people and/or their families. Justice concerns are the result of offending/anti-social behaviour by young people.
Some children and young people have complex needs and difficulties which may require a dual response from the YJS and S&S. It is these cases where case responsibility, identification of the lead professional and management need to be clear. Effective joint working enhances the quality of life chances for all children. This protocol will seek to clarify the roles and responsibilities for shared and complex cases.
Central to the protocol is the need to ensure that all services are delivered according to anti-discriminatory practice and take the ethnicity, gender and sexuality of young people and their related needs into account.
3. How we will Work Together
There is a clear commitment from S&S and the YJS to partnership working across Children's Services. In order to achieve this and facilitate partnership each Service will:
- Ensure that representatives with the appropriate level of authority have membership of and participate in the relevant Boards and other meetings of both services;
- Contribute to the development of strategies as required and ensure named professionals are designated as links between services;
- Share information in accordance with agreed protocols and the law;
- Nominate an overarching link person from each service to manage the relationship between the Services;
- Report jointly to relevant management boards.
The YJS Manager is a member of the Local Safeguarding Children Partnership. The Assistant Director of S&S is a member of the Ealing Safeguarding Children Partnership (ESCP) and sits on the Children's Trust. The Director of Children and Families chairs the YJS Performance Management Board and is also a member of the Ealing Safeguarding Children Board and therefore oversees effective joint working across both services.
YJS managers will ensure that all staff are aware of, have access to, and follow the London Child Protection Procedures and the local safeguarding procedures.
If a child protection concern is identified by a YJS officer, they must report it immediately to their manager before notifying Ealing Children's Integrated Response Service (ECIRS) or the allocated social worker.
Child protection investigations will always be the responsibility of S&S Social Workers.
A YJS representative will attend strategy meetings, child protection conferences, professional planning meetings, core group meetings etc where appropriate. In the event that attendance is impossible, the YJS allocated worker or his/her line manager will submit a written report.
All YJS practitioners will be required to undertake the Council's Child Protection and Safeguarding training programmes.
In cases where YJS practitioners identify the vulnerability level of a young person as high, a multi-agency professionals meeting will be convened to ensure that welfare needs are addressed. This applies to a range of young people, including those at risk of involvement in serious youth violence including gun and knife crime.
5. Looked After Children
If a young person is looked after (LAC) and is reported to be engaged in offending, the allocated social worker should refer to the YJS Youth Out of Court Prevent Panel where LAC will be prioritised for early intervention. Referrals should be made in writing and must address risk factors, such as family background, education, constructive use of leisure, substance misuse, offending / anti-social behaviour.
Should a LAC be arrested and an Appropriate Adult required to attend a police station, it is expected that, in the first instance, the young person's parent or carer will attend. If the child is in residential care, their key worker should attend. In the event that the residential staff are unable to attend and/or are the victims of the offence, the allocated social worker should attend. In the event that all options have been explored and there is nobody available to attend, the YJS Appropriate Adult Service will attend the police station.
If, after initial interview, the young person is bailed to return to the police station for charging, issuing a caution or conditional caution - a parent, carer, Residential Social Worker (RSW) or S&S social worker will need to accompany him or her. Similarly, if the young person is assessed as eligible for the YJS Triage scheme, a parent, carer, Residential Social Worker or S&S social worker will need to accompany them when they answer to their bail, either at successful completion of the Triage programme or following a failure to comply.
YJS staff cannot act in loco parentis when children or young people appear in court. The young person should be accompanied by their parent, carer, residential worker or social worker. In cases of emergency or where the social worker / foster carer may be the victim of the crime, the YJS managers should be contacted to discuss who attends court with the young person.
Carers, Residential Staff and Social Workers are responsible for arranging transport to and from court and for ensuring that legal aid matters have been arranged.
In the event that a LAC is sentenced to a Referral Order, a representative from the relevant Connect or Leaving Care team will be invited to attend the Referral Order panel. The YJS will make every effort to convene the panel at a time and place convenient for the representative (although the wishes of the victim take priority). The Connector Leaving Care team will ensure that someone attends the panel with the young person (parent, keyworker, carer, allocated social worker).
When a young person's case is being reviewed by the YJS, the YJS case manager will ensure that the allocated social worker is invited to all reviews and planning meetings, including those for young people in custody.
Team managers within S&S will ensure that allocated YJS workers are invited to statutory reviews of children in care and planning meetings where appropriate. YJS Asset assessments, intervention plans and young people's care plans must inform each other.
Where there is an allocated worker in the YJS and an allocated social worker, it is essential that both workers meet and agree their areas of responsibility, define respective roles and determine how frequently and by what method future communications will be made. Joint meetings will be held before either service closes the case.
For children placed out of borough, it is the responsibility of S&S staff to establish whether there are any concerns about offending or risk of offending and ensure that liaison with the Youth Offending Service (YOS) takes place as required. The YJS will provide support, advice and consultation about these young people to the allocated social worker.
Young people who are subject to care orders, accommodated under Section 20 or eligible under the Leaving Care Act 2000 and who become the subjects of custodial sentences remain open LAC cases and the YJS will ensure that resettlement plans are made in conjunction with the allocated social worker in the case.
6. Remands into Local Authority Accommodation
7. Remands into Local Authority Accommodation (secure)
8. Preventing Offending
Effective work with children and young people to prevent offending is a statutory requirement placed on all agencies under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and is one of the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) and Local Criminal Justice Board (LCJB) indicators. Preventing offending, therefore, is not just the remit of the Youth Justice Service. However, the YJS does provide specialist services which can support the work done by S&S to prevent offending. The YJS will, therefore, accept referrals through the Youth Out of Court Prevent Panel.
9. Anti Social Behaviour Injunctions and ABCs
The Anti Social Behaviour Action Group (ASBAG) acts as a mechanism to ensure that there is consultation and a co-ordinated plan in place for all those who have come to the attention of their attention and who are suitable for inclusion in Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs). The Community Safety Service will monitor and oversee ABCs.
The national guidance stipulates that the YJS will be consulted prior to an Anti Social Behaviour Injunction being sought in the court. Locally agreed procedures are that the ASBAG and the police (where they are seeking Anti Social Behaviour Injunctions as part of criminal proceedings) will consult and discuss with the YJS. The YJS will ensure that the S&S views are fully incorporated in feedback.
10. The Education of Young Offenders
Information about the educational circumstances and outcomes for young people who have offended is essential to ensure improved achievement levels. Information sharing protocols are in place across the local authority.
The YJS will make the education of young offenders a priority and facilitate joint planning with schools, the Pupil Referral Unit, and education providers in order to achieve positive educational outcomes and ensure that each young person is enrolled at school or an appropriate education placement or College.
The YJS will routinely attend MAPS and other relevant forums as required.
The YJS will ensure that, when young people are in custody, their educational needs are addressed.
The YJS will ensure that it follows the protocol with schools and maintains regular contact with the designated teacher for young offenders in each of the schools.
The YJS will work with the Safer Schools Partnership Initiative in order to deliver targeted interventions to those most at risk of school exclusion and offending.
S&S, the YJS and schools will plan strategically, in partnership, to improve the overall levels of attainment for young offenders.
11. The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008
The above Act introduced the Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO) on 30th November 2009. The YRO contains up to 18 requirements, 3 of which are of direct relevance to joint work with S&S. The residence requirement (for 16 and 17 year olds) and local authority residence requirement can be made by the Court on the recommendation of the YJS. The YJS will complete an assessment and then liaise with S&S relevant staff when either of these requirements is being proposed.
The Intensive Fostering (IF) requirement is an alternative to custody and the YJS will liaise with S&S as soon as the court indicates IF is being considered as a sentence. S&S will be involved in the assessment and thereafter, as the young person becomes a LAC as a result of IF.
12. Multi-Agency Support Teams (MAST)
Ealing now has several Multi-Agency Support Teams (MAST) aimed at families experiencing problems including child behavioural problems, mental ill health, domestic violence, having a parent in prison, prolific parent offending, substance misuse, and child neglect, which often lead to youth offending and other poor outcomes.
13. PACE Beds
When a young person is charged with an offence police may refuse bail. In such cases, the Emergency Duty Team will be contacted and where practicable will seek a suitable and appropriate placement. Where, out of hours, this is not possible, the Emergency Duty Team will ensure the relevant office is notified to follow up first thing on the next working day.See Transfer with Other Local Authorities Procedure.
14. Gangs and Serious Youth Violence
As well as putting themselves and others at risk, young people who are involved in gang-related or other serious violent offending place themselves and their families in jeopardy as they attempt to disengage from these activities. In such cases, in order to establish whether the issue is one of safeguarding or a duty of care to the family as a whole, the YJS will call a professionals meeting and invite team managers from Housing, Social Care and any other relevant agency such as police or Leaving Care. The respective agencies will cooperate in providing services, interventions and exit strategies which assist in safeguarding the young person and their families up to and including relocation.
The respective agencies will prioritise the timely exchange of police and other relevant intelligence and the provision of discrete services to safeguard girls and young women whose participation in gang activities puts them at risk of sexual exploitation and physical harm.
15. Children Missing from Care and Home
In responding to cases of young people considered 'missing' (i.e. if their whereabouts are unknown, whatever the circumstances of their disappearance) the roles and responsibilities of the YJS and S&S are those described in the London Child Protection Procedures, Children Missing from Care, Home and Education Procedure. The Procedure is designed to support an effective collaborative safeguarding response from all agencies involved when a child goes missing and provide guidance for assessing both the risk to the child going missing and the risk to the child when they are missing. The Procedure describes appropriate staff/agency actions to locate the child, to effect their return and to identify the issues which caused, and may continue to cause, the child to go missing.
16. Conflict Resolution
Operational problems or differences of opinion between YJS, S&S staff and/or schools, are best resolved by the workers themselves in the first instance. If they are unable to come to an agreement, the workers must refer the matter to appropriate line managers, including the YJS Head of service and the relevant Heads of Service Final point of resolution will be through the Director of Children and Families.