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Youth offending

Wiltshire's Youth Offending Team (YOT) works with children and young people who are involved in offending behaviour. We do this by working with the young person, their parents or carers, the victims of crime, volunteers and the local community. The YOT is made up of staff from a range of organisations including the police, probation service, education and children's social care, all working together to tackle youth crime in Wiltshire.

The three main areas of YOT work are:

  • Prevention: Some young people may be at risk of getting into trouble but have not yet committed an offence. The team supervises and supports these young people to prevent them entering the criminal justice system.
  • Offenders: We work with young people who have committed offences, to change their behaviour and stop reoffending.
  • Work with victims of crime: Through the process of restorative justice, we work with victims of crime to make sure they are given a voice within the criminal justice system.

The work of youth offending teams is overseen by the Youth Justice Board, whose aims are:

  • To oversee the youth justice system in England and Wales.
  • To prevent offending and reoffending by children and young people under the age of 18.
  • To make sure custody for them is safe, secure and addresses the cause of their offending behaviour.
  • Find out more about the Youth Justice Board.

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When young people first get into trouble with the law, commit offences or behave anti-socially, they can be dealt with by the police and local authority, outside the court system using various different orders and agreements. This is to stop young people getting drawn into the youth justice system too early, but still offers them the help and support they need to stop offending.

The orders and agreements you can get in the youth justice system are:

Out of court disposals

Out of court disposals allow the police to deal quickly and appropriately with low-risk, low-level and mostly first-time young offenders outside of the court system.

If a young person is involved in low level crime and admits their guilt the police could recommend:

  • No further action
  • Community resolution
  • Youth caution
  • Youth conditional caution

If none of these options are suitable, the young person faces being charged and prosecuted through the courts.

Reparation Order

The aim of a reparation order is to help prevent a young person from offending again by understanding the consequences of their actions and taking responsibility for what they have done. Reparation requires a young person to repair the harm caused by their offence either directly to the victim or indirectly to the community.

A reparation order will be supervised and managed by someone from the YOT, who will carry out an assessment and arrange a suitable form of reparation for you. If you are in school or in training then reparation will be organised at a time that does not interfere with this. A reparation worker will supervise you while you complete the agreed work objective set out in your contract. They will collect you from your home address, stay with you for your session and then drop you back at home.

Reparation can take a number of forms, such as direct reparation, which is work that directly benefits the victim of your offence; indirect reparation, which is reparation suggested by the victim; or community reparation, which will see you working on a community project.

Referral Order and the contract

A referral order is given to a young person aged 10-17 who pleads guilty at court to their first criminal offence. The only exceptions are in very minor cases or if the court decides the offence is so serious that a custodial sentence is necessary. A referral order can be made for a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 12. 

If you have been given a referral order, you will have to appear before a meeting of the Youth Offender Panel. The aim of the initial panel meeting is to agree a plan of action after they have heard your views on what you have done, the views and feelings of the victim and the views of your parents. You will then be expected to agree a contract with the panel to repair the harm caused by the offence.

When the order is complete your conviction will be spent. This means that you do not have to tell anyone about it, and most people will have no right to know about it. The only exception is if you are applying for certain jobs, for example, working with children. The referral order is the only court order that will not be recorded as a criminal conviction. 

Youth Rehabilitation Order

For the majority of young people who offend, a community sentence known as a Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO) is used. A court must consider the offence the young person has committed is serious enough to warrant a community sentence, requires a restriction on their liberty and equals the seriousness of the offence.

The YOT team will be asked to prepare a Pre-Sentence Report to inform the court about the seriousness of the offence, the needs of the young person and the risk of harm they present to others in the future. Those needs and risks will help the court to decide the requirements of the YRO and how long it will last. 

Intensive supervision and surveillance

Intensive Supervision and Surveillance can be ordered by the court as part of a Youth Rehabilitation Order. As a mixture of punishment and positive opportunities, it is an alternative to custody for young people who have committed a serious offence.

The Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme targets the most active repeat young offenders and those who commit the most serious crimes. It combines intensive supervision with close monitoring and is designed to:

  • Ensure the young person makes amends for their offences
  • Address the underlying causes of the offending
  • Put in place support and activities to avoid offending in the future
  • Manage the risks posed by the young person to the community
  • Stabilise what is often a very chaotic lifestyle
  • Involve the young person in the community
  • Help the young person do what is necessary to stop offending and to protect the public from harm.

Every young person has their own programme tailored to tackle the root causes of their offending behaviour.

Custody and imprisonment

Young offenders can receive custodial sentences, but they will only be imposed in the most serious cases. When they are given, they aim to provide training and education and rehabilitate the offender so they do not reoffend.


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The YOT encourages young people to take responsibility for the harm and loss they have caused their victim and agree on ways of making amends. This is done by working with victims and listening to their views on how the young person can repair the harm they have caused. Many victims have found that becoming involved in the justice process helps them to deal with the difficult emotions they may experience after the crime.

How can victims of crime be actively involved?

  • Communicate their views about the impact the offence has had on them.
  • Victims can attend panel meetings which involve the young person, a YOT worker and volunteers from the community.
  • By helping to decide the type of reparation the young person will carry out.
  • Agreeing for the young person to write letters of responsibility.
  • Participating in a restorative justice process and/or have direct contact with the young person.

How are victims supported if they choose to become involved?

There are a number of ways victims will be supported. These include:

  • Being actively listened to and their views taken into account.
  • Contact and support from our victim liaison officers.
  • Ongoing support from volunteers who are trained to work with victims.
  • Being provided with information about the young person and their progress in relation to victim work throughout the order.
  • Referral to Victim Support where appropriate.
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Who do we help?

  • Young people aged 8-16 years.
  • Pre-offending but involved in anti-social behaviour.
  • Young people who are involved in offending behaviour but are not known to the police or criminal justice system.
  • Young people who have come to the attention of the police.
  • Young people who have received a local resolution/community resolution and are considered to be at high risk of reoffending.
  • Siblings of those who have come to the attention of the police and are involved in the criminal justice system.

How can we help?

  • Anger management.
  • Youth Crime Initiative – group educational sessions.
  • One to one work on consequences, anger management, boundaries and advocacy at school meetings.
  • Work with families to parents to set boundaries and carry through rewards and sanctions.
  • Activity days.
  • Structured group programmes.
  • Sign posting – referrals to other professionals.
  • Mentoring – we work with volunteers who act as mentors to young offenders.
  • We help to engage young people in positive activities by encouragement and funding.
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The youth offending team is supported by volunteers from the community who help us in various ways. These include helping as:

  • Members of the referral order panel.
  • Mentors to children and young people.
  • Supporters to victims.
  • Appropriate adults.

Volunteering to work with our team will suit you if you are interested in supporting young people who have offended or are at risk of offending. There are also opportunities to work on specific projects supporting YOT staff. Volunteers receive full training, support and expenses.

What makes a suitable volunteer?

  • You have an interest in and an understanding of young people.
  • You live in or close to Wiltshire.
  • You have two or more hours to offer.
  • You have personal skills you feel you can bring to the role.
  • You ideally have a driving licence and access to a car.
  • You are flexible with your time and have a creative approach to supporting hard to reach young people.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please call our volunteer coordinator on 01225 716505.

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Wiltshire Mentoring Scheme matches children and young people aged 8-17 years who have been referred to the scheme due to their vulnerability and/or offending behaviour. The emphasis is on building a relationship, relaxing and having fun with the aim of boosting the young person's confidence and self-esteem, supporting them in expressing their feelings and exploring some of the issues that they face.

Meetings take place on a one to one basis, away from home e.g. in a local café, sports centre, library etc.

Activities may include going for a meal, playing a sport, sharing an interest, using the internet, looking for a job, visiting somewhere new or just chatting. Volunteer mentors meet with young people for around a hour a week, up to a period of one year.

For further information, please contact:

Sue Nash
Early Help Team Leader
01225 716623
07789940970
sue.nash@wiltshire.gov.uk

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When a young person is arrested by the police they are taken to a police station and questioned according to procedures agreed in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) Codes of Practice.

An appropriate adult (AA) is necessary when a young person aged between 10 years and under the age of 18 is interviewed. This is usually the parent or carer; however, in some circumstances this may not be possible. The Wiltshire Volunteer Appropriate Adult Scheme provides an AA in these cases.

The role of the AA is to look after the young person's interests, facilitate communication, ensure the young person understands the process and that their welfare needs are being met. Being held in custody can be a very traumatic and confusing event for a young person and the AA will help to see them through the process in a calm and reassuring way. The role of the AA is not to provide legal advice, as this is provided by a solicitor. The AA will be required to record the arrest/interview on the pro forma provided, which is then forwarded to the local Youth Offending Team. AAs put their names on a monthly rota and are called out as and when required between the hours of 9am and 10pm. Visits to the police station usually last around two hours but can be longer. This role predominantly takes place at Melksham Police Station in Semington.

For further information, please contact:

Sue Nash
Early Help Team Leader
01225 716623
07789940970
sue.nash@wiltshire.gov.uk

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Would you like to help young offenders turn their lives around? We are looking for volunteers representing Wiltshire's diverse community to sit on Youth Offender Panels. As part of the panel, you will meet with young people who have committed an offence, as well as their families and possibly the victims of their crimes.

You will talk about the offence, the experiences of the victim and the issues faced by the young person. Then you will all agree a contract designed to help the young person to stop offending and make up for the harm they have caused.

For further information, please contact:

Sue Nash
Early Help Team Leader
01225 716623
07789940970
sue.nash@wiltshire.gov.uk

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The Prevention Project is available to offer voluntary support for young people aged 8-18 for a number of different reasons. Interventions could address those on the periphery of offending, those committing offending behaviour, as well as supporting safeguarding and promoting welfare and reducing risky behaviour.

We offer a range of support based on a holistic assessment of young people and their circumstance. This could include requests from professionals for a tailored assessment and intervention based on a specific behaviour or offending type. Support would be targeted and specific, lasting for an agreed period of time (i.e. three months) and subject to review. For example, keep safe or anger management work. This could include positive activities or group work, parenting, and linking into other provisions.

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Youth offending downloads

Structure chart PDF (203kb)

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Last updated: 10 April 2017 | Last reviewed: 10 April 2017