Agenda item

South Tees Youth Offending Service

Kay Dargue, Head of Service will provide the annual update with specific reference to children looked after.



The Chair welcomed Kay Dargue, Head of South Tees Justice Board to the meeting. The Head of service had provided a report to inform the Board of the annual update of the work of South Tees Youth Justice Service, with specific reference to children looked after.


The Head of service provided some context in relation to the South Tees Youth Justice board (STYJB), advising that the The Youth Justice Board (YJB) are clear that the justice system must see “children as children first, and offenders second”.

In line with the Child First vision, the YJB wants to make sure that children are not unnecessarily criminalised as a result of their vulnerabilities and the challenges they face. South Tees Youth Justice Service is aligned to the values of the YJB, and the ‘child first, offender second’ ethos has been used to inform the values and principles which underpin our work with young people and their families.

The Board were aware that the service was previously known at the South Tees Youth Offending service, however after consultation with young people, they felt this portrayed a negative image and therefore on 1 July 2022, it was launched under the new name of South Tees Youth Justice Board (STYJB).

STYJB have strong partnership arrangements with Children’s safeguarding services at strategic and operational levels and engage at a managerial level at a number of multi- agency forums designed to ensure the safety and well being of young people.

Reducing the number of Children who are Looked After in the criminal justice system is a key priority for STYJS. They seek to work proactively with those young people who experience significant vulnerabilities including children in local authority care. Their work with looked after children is in line with the National protocol on reducing unnecessary criminilisation of looked after children and care leavers 2018. The service works closely with the virtual schools and also the participation team to bring together skills and thoughts.


STYJB offer a range of additional activity for children who are looked after, including:


               Work with Cleveland Police and Children’s Home staff to ensure those young people in Children’s Homes who offend have their offending behaviour addressed appropriately, including the use of restorative intervention as a solution to minimise prosecution

               Ensure active STYJS attendance at all planning or strategy meetings for young people with Children looked after status

               STYJS safeguarding case managers provide an essential link to Children’s Services teams in both Local Authorities as well as providing advice and guidance to colleagues on safeguarding issues and processes.

               Ensure all Intervention Plans for Children looked after are shared with young people, their carers and colleagues from Children’s Services

               Joint supervision arrangements between STYJS and Middlesbrough Children’s Services are in place offering the opportunity to share decision making and agree strategies to meet the needs of young people known to both services.

               A working agreement between STYJS and Early Help is in place to ensure joint planning and supervision arrangements. The agreement aims to reduce escalation in the criminal justice and / or looked after system by working collaboratively.

               A YJS ‘single point of contact’ has been provided to the Multi Agency Children’s Hub. This offers multi agency children’s hub (MACH) staff the direct opportunity for information and advice on young people known to our service.

               MACH case admin have access to STYJS case management system ‘Childview’ which allows for checks to be made as a referral is received by the MACH to ascertain if the case is open to STYJS and ensure that joint working commences at the earliest opportunity.


In terms of involvement, the vast majority of chidren looked and care leavers after do not get involved with the justice system, however they remain over-represented compared with others in the criminal justice system. The service know that Looked after children (who have been looked after for at least 12 months) are five times more likely to offend than all children, and around half of young people in custody have been in care at some point.

In terms of caseload demographics, Information contained within the Local Authority Interactive Tool, shows that in Middlesbrough in 2022, 2% of children who were looked after had been convicted or were subject to a Youth Caution. This in line with the North East (2%) and national (in England 2%) figures. 


Within the report, the Head of service has provided a breakdown of cases open yo STYJB between 1 April 2022 and 30 September 2022. It showed that the The table shows that the largest proportion of young people open to the service were white British boys aged 17 or over. 18.9% of cases open to the service in the last 6 months were children looked after, which is slightly higher than 15.5% in the same period last year. However, this figure can fluctuate and is not dissimilar to the other Cleveland Youth Justice Services.


In terms of developments of the service over the last 12 months, these were detailed within the report, however a number of these were as follows:

1.    New name for service

2.    A well developed joint working arrangement between STYJB and children’s social care.

3.    STYJB management board receives a performance report on a quarterly basis which outlines progress against our 3 key outcome measures, these being;


  • To reduce first time entrants to the youth justice system
  • To prevent re-offending by children and young people
  • Reduce the use of custody for young people (both sentenced and remanded)


4.    The STYJS Management Board recently requested further information on the number of children who are looked after who are first time entrants to be included in the report to ensure we appropriately monitor and track these children and identify any issues which may need responding to from a partnership perspective.

  1. From April 2023 the YJB are bringing in ten new additional national key performance indicators to Youth Justice Services to ensure there is a clear understanding of how local multi-agency partnerships are operating, and provide transparency and accountability to help Youth Justice Management Boards, the YJB and Ministry of Justice to recognise progress and successes as well as to focus attention and support where there are challenges. One of the new KPI’s is;


% children who are currently on either an Early Help (EH) plan; on a child protection (CP) plan or classified as Child in Need (CIN) or a looked after child (LAC)

6.    STYJS have been working closely with Cleveland Police in relation to a project in the custody suite whereby young people will be provided with an opportunity to deliver an art project in the cells with the aim of improving the environment.

Finally the Head of service provided information on the next steps and actions, which were as follows:


  1. The service will continue to work in partnership with Cleveland Police on the ‘custody project’. The project is in very early stages and provides an exciting opportunity for our young people to be consulted in the design of a bespoke custody suite. This is very unique in the Country.


  1. The Ministry Of Justice has recently announced a ‘Turnaround’ programme which is being rolled out to Youth Justice Services nationally. The aim of the programme is to intervene earlier and improve outcomes for children on the cusp of entering the youth justice system. In practice this will enable STYJS will work with a wider co-hort of children than previously and provide additional support at an earlier point to prevent escalation in to the youth justice system. Final guidance is due to be published imminently and the programme is currently expected to go live in April 2023.


  1. STYJS plans to deliver targeted staff development sessions including ‘Awareness Raising on Care Leavers in Custody’ as part of the Principal Social Worker’s ‘Hot Topics’ sessions. The first session is planned in December, following which wider staff training on young people in custody will be offered to the Children’s Social Care workforce.


The Board welcomed the presentation and were particularly pleased with the joint working and the work surrounding the custody suite, and would welcome further information on this as work develops.



That the information be noted.


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