Youth offending in the UK: participation potential

July 21, 2021

Questions around safety

Youth offending services have been prevalent in the news recently, with the highly publicised removal of all children from Rainsbrook. The transfer of the children that were held there has also raised concerning questions around the safety and suitability of various children’s institutions around the country.

Youth offending services are an incredibly complex environment, with a huge range of factors to consider and a constant pressure on resources. We’ve heard from our community up and down the country that children’s participation can be a real struggle and that meaningful engagement is difficult to achieve in the limited face to face time available.

Positive outcomes can be achieved

It’s important to note however that there are examples of Youth Offending Services that are thriving. Brighton and Hove Youth Offending Services recently received an outstanding rating across all categories in an HMIP inspection (which you can read here) and some of the feedback there is an exciting glimpse into the positive outcomes that can be achieved:

  • They were congratulated on their mature and collaborative partnership arrangements with excellent use of data to inform strategic decisions and to demonstrate impact on YOS children.
  • The workforce were praised for having the full range of skills, knowledge and experience to develop trusting and supportive relationships with children and families. Staff were noted as motivated and spoke of their pride in working for the YOS, with the leadership team clearly valuing staff and their work.
  • They were also lauded for their in-depth understanding of the characteristics of the children in the YOS cohort. Children could swiftly access a range of services and support, with specific pathways for universal, targeted and specialist provision. Inspectors found trusted and high-quality relationships between staff across the partnership, which had been sustained despite the impact of Covid-19.

One of the key themes across all areas was that a high-quality, personalised and responsive service for all children is vital. To do this, you need to be able to communicate with those young people on their level, bridging any gaps caused by language, additional needs or lack of existing relationships.

Children from secure settings deliver training to workers

We work with a secure housing provider in Scotland where our apps are used to share how the young people feel, raise safety concerns and flag potential problems before they become a major issue. The accessibility features allow all young people to participate, no matter what their personal circumstances and help them feel listened to. The outcomes have been incredibly positive and we’ve even seen children from those secure settings deliver formal training to workers on how to use our apps.

There’s a long way to go in this country for every child in youth offending services to feel safe and heard, but we’re excited to work with our community to make this a reality.

If you would like to hear more about our work in secure settings, send us an email to