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Suffolk Youth Offending Service receives national award

Suffolk Youth Offending Service collect the national award
Suffolk Youth Offending Service collect the national award

Suffolk Youth Offending Service (SYOS) has been awarded an Evidence Based Practice Award for their Enhanced Triage programme at this year’s National Youth Justice Convention.

The award ceremony, hosted last night by the Youth Justice Board, recognises and promotes effective practice in working with young people.

The award comes in recognition of the youth triage and diversion programme which was piloted in Suffolk in 2015.

SYOS delivered the programme in partnership with Suffolk Constabulary to divert young offenders (aged between 10 and 18) away from the youth justice system, whilst also delivering interventions to address the underlying causes of their offending.

The joint approach allows young people and their families to be visited at home within 48 hours of a referral being made, meaning that a decision and appropriate work with the family could begin very quickly after the initial police contact.

The aims of Suffolk’s triage and diversion programme are:

* To reduce the number of first time entrants to the youth justice system

* To reduce re-offending rates

* Provide earlier and more effective engagement with victims and increased levels of victim satisfaction

* Avoid additional cost to the youth justice system

Young people diverted as part of the programme do not receive a formal outcome for the offence committed (for example a caution or court outcome) but instead voluntarily engage with a planned programme to address their offending.

This work often includes support for parents and access to a variety of other services to ensure that the young person is receiving the available support, such as education or training and appropriate health services.

In 2016 SYOS achieved the Restorative Service Quality Mark from the Restorative Justice Council, which is an independent assessment that the service delivers safe and effective restorative justice practice.

Analysis of the pilot carried out by the Centre for Justice Innovation, evidenced that over six months, in the North of the county, there was a net benefit of 57k.

Councillor Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills, said: “I am thrilled that Suffolk Youth Offending Service has received this award in recognition of their stellar work with the youth triage and diversion programme. Working in partnership with Suffolk Constabulary has meant that SYOS and police officers have been able to make joint decisions about the best outcomes for the young people they work with. This has ultimately sped up the process, allowing young people to be referred and assessed much quicker than before.

“Since 2013/14 Suffolk has seen an almost continuous reduction in the number of young people entering the youth justice system for the first time. We have seen a 28% reduction over the last year and Suffolk has consistently achieved a lower rate than the national average. We are confident that this figure will continue to drop, following the success of this partnership.”

Sergeant Darren Oxbrow who leads the project at Suffolk Police, said: “I am delighted that the work of youth triage and diversion programme has been recognised by the Youth Justice Board. Our work with the Youth Offending Service has enabled us to provide outcomes that are more dynamic and effective when dealing with young people who are involved in low level crime. Early intervention is often the key in stopping lives spiralling in the wrong direction. Understanding that children and young people can make mistakes but that this needn’t blight their future opportunities is central to this project. We are mindful that any interventions are proportionate and appropriate to the crime.

“By giving young people the opportunity to choose again, to make better supported choices, future re-offending really can be prevented, enabling young people to continue to pursue their goals and aspirations.

“The programme offers better outcomes for the suspect, improves victim satisfaction and ultimately reduces re-offending. Something we should all be proud of.”

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