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6.11 Protocol between Children's Services and Youth Offending Service


London Child Protection Procedures, Safeguarding Children Practice Guidance, Safeguarding Children affected by Gang Activity / Serious Youth Violence

London Child Protection Procedures, Safeguarding Children Practice Guidance, Safeguarding Children from Sexual Exploitation

Home Office, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) codes of practice (2016)


Southwark Children’s Services Practice Guidance on Safeguarding Children Exposed to Extremism Procedure


This chapter was updated in March 2017 by adding a link to Home Office, Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) codes of practice (2016). In particular the amended Code requires that an Appropriate Adult is now provided for children under 18 years (10-17 years inclusive) whereas previously it was for children up to the age of 16 years.


  1. Introduction
  2. Youth Crime Prevention
  3. Principles of Joint Working and Management of Risk   
  4. Early Intervention - Identifying Children and Young People at Risk of Offending
  5. Joint Work with Children Requiring Local Authority Support with Accommodation
  6. Young People Appearing in Court - Bail, Remands into Local Authority Accommodation, Youth Detention Accommodation
  7. Young Offenders Made the Subject of Court-Ordered Interventions
  8. Joint Procedures Relating to Young Offenders Sentenced to Custody
  9. Safeguarding Concerns in relation to Young People affected by Gang Activity, Child Sexual Exploitation and Sexually harmful behaviour

1. Introduction

The following protocol clarifies roles and responsibilities where the activities of Children's Social Care and the Youth Offending Service interface. It covers:

  • Early intervention to prevent offending behaviour, and services to Children in Need;
  • Children Looked After and those young people involved in the Criminal Justice System who are Eligible Young People or Relevant Young People with respect to 16+ service provision pursuant to the Leaving Care Services Act;
  • Former Looked After children (those who cease to be looked after as a result of being remanded or sentenced to custody and are not eligible for leaving care support);
  • Young people appearing in court and subject to bail or remand conditions including Youth Detention Accommodation (YDA);
  • The provision of services to young offenders sentenced to community orders or custody;
  • Joint work with young people affected by gang activity, Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) or Sexually Harmful Behaviour (SHB).

This protocol will not specifically address issues concerning information exchange, which is subsumed under a wider protocol between the local authority and its partners; and the local YOS/Police protocol. However the principle is one of sharing information in order to improve specific agency assessments and joint planning. This includes the YOS notifying allocated social workers where young people living in the borough are charged with offences and LAC staff informing YOS of out of borough charges.

The respective duties and responsibilities of the YOS and Children’s Social Care concerning Anti-Social Behaviour Injunctions are dealt with elsewhere and will not be specifically addressed in this document.

2. Youth Crime Prevention

Traditionally, Youth Justice Services have been delivered to young offenders being prosecuted at court. The CDA 1998, however, clarifies the aim of the Youth Justice Service as being to prevent offending behaviour. This entails:

  • Targeted intervention for young people at risk of involvement in criminal or anti-social behaviour, preferably at the pre-offending stage;

  • Early intervention before patterns of offending behaviour have become firmly established, i.e. schemes of diversion for young people at the arrest stage through the Triage programme, Youth caution or Youth Conditional Caution;
  • Evidence-based interventions aimed at reducing the risk of re-offending for young people receiving a community penalty or a custodial sentence.

The range of services provided or coordinated by the YOS with respect to pre-offending intervention, early intervention, and confronting offending behaviour are outlined in the local annual Youth Justice Plan.

This protocol seeks to improve key areas:

  • Define agency roles and responsibilities with respect to young offenders and their families;
  • Increase clarity as to the role and function of partner agencies in the youth justice arena, and improve shared understanding of the requirements of Section 17 1998 CDA to ‘do all that is reasonable to prevent crime’.

3. Principles of Joint Working and Management of Risk

The involvement of one agency in a case does not preclude the legitimate involvement of another. The emphasis should be placed upon delivering a 'joined-up' service, rather than segmented interventions. This process will require clear case management, and the active involvement of operational and service managers to prevent young people being left unsupported, inter-agency conflict or, alternatively, wasteful duplication of efforts.

This protocol provides a framework for working effectively in partnership to prevent offending, reduce re-offending and to mitigate risk factors associated with involvement in crime and other aspects of social exclusion.

Where cases are already open to Children’s Social Care the allocated social worker will be consulted in relation to assessment and planning, and will be regularly updated on progress by the YOS worker. Assessments will be shared to avoid duplication of effort and improve information sharing. Mutual attendance at Practice Group discussions is encouraged to promote systemic thinking and practice. Similarly attendance of both agencies at key planning meetings, for example LAC Reviews (Children’s Social Care (CSC)) and initial planning meetings (YOS) will aid fully integrated planning.

In some cases the YOS assessment will identify issues relevant to need or safeguarding indicating a consultation and possible referral to MASH through YOS MASH representation or directly to Assessment and Intervention (A&I) via the MASH manager.

Joint Assessment of young people and their families where accepted by the family should always be given active consideration.

Assessment documentation from Social Care and YOS will be shared for all joint work and respective databases updated appropriately.

The above principles apply to all young people supervised or supported by the YOS where Children’s Social Care involvement is indicated.

Any conflict between caseworkers or managers as to allocation of resources or the aim of joint work must be escalated up the management line a step at a time.

4. Early Intervention - Identifying Children and Young People at Risk of Offending

The process for identifying children at risk of offending, determining the need for intervention and whether this can be delivered on a voluntary basis or requires the imposition of a more formal outcome is described below and relates to concerns raised by:

  • Southwark Anti- Social Behaviour Unit (SASBU);
  • Children Social Care staff;
  • Police through Merlins or intelligence sharing meetings (HAMROW, TTCG, PTG);
  • Schools and other community agencies;
  • Parents or young people;
  • Police at arrest stage at the police station.

Concerns about children involved in anti-social behaviour or at risk of offending enter the system by differing routes. Concerns may be conveyed to Children’s Social Care and the YOS by SASBU, who will have been alerted by Housing Management Services or the police. However in most cases the YOS will be notified via the police Merlin reports via the Public Protection Desk. The process also needs to be sufficiently flexible to respond to concerns raised by schools, and parents themselves, and these may be routed through MASH.

Children Looked After who are deemed at risk of involvement in crime, should be referred directly to the YOS Advanced Practitioner lead for Children Looked After.

In those instances where a young person is already being worked with by Children’s Social Care the involvement of the YOS is predicated on the assumption of working in partnership and is not an alternative to Children's Social Care involvement.

Children Social Care staff are encouraged to use the Advanced Practitioner lead to discuss concerns about criminal behaviour.

YOS also offers training for foster carers in dealing with offending and teenagers at risk of involvement in gangs or serious youth violence.

In order to reduce the number of First Time Entrants (FTE) to the Youth Justice system the YOS, in partnership with the police, operate a Triage service. In consultation with the police young people arrested for low gravity offences, with no significant offending history and admitting to the offence may be diverted from prosecution. The diversionary programme involves 4-6 sessions covering issues consistent with the needs and/or risk of offending identified by and ONSET assessment and focused on restorative justice principles.

For higher gravity offences, the police disposal may be a Youth caution or a Youth Conditional Caution. Interventions will be delivered by YOS in partnership with Children’s Social care staff where appropriate.

5. Joint Work with Children Requiring Local Authority Support with Accommodation

In the event of children and young people being assessed by the YOS as requiring accommodation services pursuant to Section 20 1989 Children Act, or they become estranged from their family, the YOS officer should discuss the concerns with the allocated social worker or refer to the Integrated Homeless Team (16/17 year olds) or MASH for under 16’s. The necessity for prompt inter-agency action may arise in the following circumstances:

  • Where there are concerns raised by the Court about a return to the family home and liaison with Social Care is required immediately to offer reassurance to the court and/or offer alternative addresses;
  • Where the Court grants Bail with a condition to reside as directed by Children's Services because parents/carers have refused to accept care responsibilities for the young offender, have not attended court and cannot be contacted, or the Court has imposed a negative requirement prohibiting a return home:
    • In such cases, the YOS officer will liaise with MASH or the allocated social worker for appropriate assessment and intervention in partnership with the YOS supervising officer;
    • Where subsequently, the parent or carer is contacted, every effort should be made to support a return home for the young person provided it is in his / her best interests, and bail conditions imposed by the court permit;
    • The agreement to accommodate under Section 20 1989 Children Act must be made at the level of Head of Service.

6. Young People Appearing in Court - Bail, Remands into Local Authority Accommodation, Youth Detention Accommodation

See also Remand to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.

The YOS has responsibility for monitoring all young people appearing in court, recording outcomes, and advising the court of services available where appropriate. However, not all young people appearing in court require services provided directly or coordinated by the YOS, particularly where young people are remanded to appear on unconditional bail.

Southwark YOS is required to provide a service to Camberwell Youth Court. Where Southwark young people appear in another court or on a non Southwark day at Camberwell the London/National YOT protocols require the home YOS to be contacted. It is particularly crucial that this happens at the earliest opportunity when bail is being refused and negotiation then has to take place via the ‘host’ YOS who service that particular court.

Where objections to bail are raised, the YOS will provide an assessment wherever possible at the first Court hearing and, where practical, provide or co-ordinate a Bail Supervision and Support (BSS) programme. The bail assessment may give rise to concerns relating to the home circumstances that would warrant a referral to Social Care. In cases where Children’s Social Care is already actively involved they are expected to retain their involvement, and the YOS caseworker will involve the social worker in the planning process, and vice versa.

The court has the power to remand into Local Authority Accommodation a young person under the age of 18 years with or without conditions. See Remand to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure for more details. These young people are Looked After.

Where there is an allocated social worker, that social worker will carry out all Looked After Children (LAC) duties and work closely with the YOS officer.

Where there is no allocated social worker, the YOS officer will be responsible for LAC duties including the Single Assessment in liaison with the Quality assurance Unit. If the young person remains in Care the case will transfer to the Care service at the first Looked After Review.

If the young person was Looked After prior to remand, the Care Plan should be reviewed with the remand plan and the Detention Placement Plan used to record the Care Plan.

7. Young Offenders Made the Subject of Court-Ordered Interventions

Court-ordered interventions will be supervised by the YOS, in accordance with sentence requirements and National Standards for Youth Justice. It would be appropriate for Initial Planning Meetings and reviews of court-ordered interventions to be organised and chaired by a YOS Advanced Practitioner, while Looked After Reviews are chaired by Independent Reviewing Officers. A single meeting can fulfil both functions if agreed by both services.

In the event of children who are Looked After or Children in Need being charged with an offence and prosecuted in court the following procedures will apply.

  • The YOS will notify the allocated social worker within 1 working day of having received notification of the offence, court appearance, or PSR request. The YOS will continue to update the social worker as appropriate. However, where the child is Looked After, the functions of the YOS do not remove the imperative for the social worker to act In loco parentis as a responsible adult in the court proceedings;
  • In the case of Children Looked After, placed out-of-borough and committing offences, the social worker will notify the Southwark YOS of any proceedings within 1 working day of notification of charge, court appearance, or conviction to enable Southwark YOS to liaise with the local YOS as appropriate;
  • A Southwark YOS officer will be allocated to track the progress of the case. However the local YOS will be responsible for delivery of interventions.

Assessment and intervention is a dynamic process and, on occasion, needs and/or safeguarding concerns will emerge post-sentencing while the young person is being supervised in the community. It is imperative that the case manager in consultation with their line manager/operations manager discuss the case with Assessment and Intervention, or if already known to Children’s Social Care convey the information of concern to the allocated social worker both verbally and in writing. Where there is significant concern a network meeting (with young person and parents) or a professionals meeting may be required to bring all agencies together to share information and manage risk and vulnerability issues.

Joint Practice Group discussions can also be used to review cases involving Clinical Practitioner.

8. Joint Procedures Relating to Young Offenders Sentenced to Custody

The majority of custodial sentences for young people are Detention and Training Orders with a minimum sentence of 4 months and a maximum of 2 years. In general, half of the sentence is served in custody and the remainder served in the community under supervision of the YOS. Young people charged with an offence for which a longer sentence would be appropriate, are committed by the Youth Court to the Crown Court, where they can be sentenced to longer terms of imprisonment. However, it is usually the case that the young person will be released into the community under the supervision of the YOS at the midway point of the sentence.

The facility exists for the Prison Governor, to allow early release in response to good behaviour. The prison authority will inform the allocated YOS worker of the early release date and the mandatory release date in the early days of the sentence.

All young prisoners are the subject of a Sentence Plan agreed by the custodial establishment and the supervising YOS, which considers tackling offending behaviour, associated risk factors, education, well-being, and post-release arrangements and continuing supervision. The supervising YOS officer will invite any allocated social worker to the statutory review meetings held for young people in custody.

With respect to any Child Looked After (Section 31 1989 Children Act), or who was looked after (Section 23 1998 C.D.A), or Section 20 1989 Children Act.) immediately prior to sentencing and considered relevant; the care planning meetings and sentence plan review meetings will be attended by both YOS and Social Care staff. The LAC Review and sentence planning review should be held together where timescales allow and be chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer, this includes the release preparation meeting (final review) in custody.

In the case of Children Looked After whether pursuant to Section 31 or Section 20 1989 C.A, it is imperative that the Sentence Plan is integrated with the local authority Care Plan. This may include plans to accommodate upon release, where the young person remains vulnerable.

New guidance for former looked after children provides a duty to assess the needs of young people who cease to be looked after when they enter custody and who are not ‘Relevant’. (See Responsibilities of the Local Authority to Former Looked After Children and Young People in Custody Procedure). This requires:

  • A visit to the young person within 10 working days of the custody date; and,
  • Completion of a Single Assessment within 20 working days of custody date outlining the advice, assistance and support required in custody and on release.

The above visit and assessment to be completed by whoever was the allocated worker of the young person at the point of custody.

In the event of a young prisoner being entitled to early release, the YOS is required to provide the Prison Governor with details of the intended address for the young person and its suitability for the installation of electronic monitoring. The Governor must receive this information 10 working days before the release date or early release may be denied.

Planning for release begins at the first sentence plan meeting held in custody. As soon as concerns are raised about a young person being unable to live with their family on release, the procedures in Section 6 above need to be followed and a referral discussed at the YOS Social Care Meeting or with their allocated social worker.

NB: New guidance states that if no placement has been identified at the release preparation meeting, no less than one month before release, the issue MUST be escalated to the relevant service and if no address is available at the pre release meeting this must be escalated to the Director of Children’s Services no later than 7 days prior to the release date.

9. Safeguarding Concerns in relation to Young People affected by Gang Activity, Child Sexual Exploitation or Sexually Harmful Behaviour

See also London Child Protection Procedures, Safeguarding Children Practice Guidance, Safeguarding Children affected by Gang Activity / Serious Youth Violence.

London Child Protection Procedures, Safeguarding Children Practice Guidance, Safeguarding Children from Sexual Exploitation.

Safeguarding procedures can provide a key tool for all agencies working with young people in partnership to prevent their involvement with gangs either as members or victims of gang-involved offending. Where a child is ‘affected’ by gang activity or serious youth violence, the risk or potential risk of harm to the child may be as a victim, a perpetrator or both(2).

The key principles as outlined in the London Safeguarding Board Procedures, Safeguarding Children Practice Guidance, Safeguarding Children Affected by Gang Activity / Serious Youth Violence Procedure are:

  • The safety and welfare of the child is paramount;
  • Children who harm others are both perpetrators and victims of gang activity;
  • All agencies act in the interests of the rights of the child as stated in the UN Convention (1989);
  • All decisions or plans for the child/ren should be based on good quality assessments and be sensitive to the issues of gender, nationality, culture and sexuality; and
  • All agencies should work in partnership with members of local communities, to empower individuals and groups to develop support networks.

Young people engaged with the YOS who are gang involved as evidenced by a combination of Asset/Onset assessment tools and police intelligence (HAMROW, TTCG or PTG meetings) will require the case manager to complete a Risk of Serious Harm assessment and, take the case to Risk Management Panel if the risk is high or very high. In many cases the young person will also be vulnerable to harm due to the cyclical nature of the link between offender and victim, their own reckless behaviours including use of weapons, substance misuse, sexually harmful behaviour or Sexual Exploitation. The YOS integrated Vulnerability Risk and Intervention Plan (IVRI) will be completed to identify appropriate factors and mitigation actions.

YOS must be invited to attend strategy meetings called by Social Care regarding issues of gang involvement, Child Sexual Exploitation or Sexually harmful behaviour by children and young people subject to Child Protection or Child in Need Plans or who are Looked After.

Concerns may not be restricted to young people directly involved with gangs as victims or perpetrators but may include siblings who may be drawn into the margins of gang-involved offending or may be the victims of reprisals.

YOS has duties under the radicalisation ‘prevent’ agenda and sends a representative to Channel meetings to share information and agree strategy with the multi-agency group. (See Southwark Children’s Services Practice Guidance on Safeguarding Children Exposed to Extremism Procedure.)