“I enjoy working with young people and the variety of the job – the fact that you are trying to help them not to reoffend and working with their families. It’s very much about assisting a young person to become a fuller person. Some of the time they realise what they are doing and move on – in which case you never see them again, which is satisfying.”
Andrew Gordon-Johnson is a case manager for the Greenwich youth offending team in south east London
How many Yots are there and how long have they been around?
There are 156 youth offending teams (Yots) across England and Wales. Established under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, they began in April 2000. Each team has to have at least one representative from the probation service, social services, police, health and education, plus anyone else the local authority thinks is appropriate. Each Yot is overseen by a manager, who is responsible for co-ordinating youth justice services locally.
Where are they usually located and what other workers or professionals do they work with?
Yot workers are usually based in local authority premises and work with the police, the probation service, social workers, and professionals from health, education and housing, including education welfare officers, substance misuse professionals, and housing officers.
What is their main role?
Their main role is to prevent further offending by children and young people under the age of 18. They do this by first assessing young offenders’ needs to identify the specific problems at the root of their offending and to gauge the risk they pose to others. They then identify suitable programmes to address those needs and prevent further offending.
What are the main pieces of legislation governing their work?
The main legislation is the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which led to the creation of Yots and the Youth Justice Board and sets out the sentencing framework that Yots work within. Subsequent acts have made amendments/additions that are relevant. These include the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, which gave Yots a role in new youth offending panels to which offenders aged 10 to 17 who plead guilty could be referred; the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003; and the Children Act 2004, which promoted co-operation between agencies to improve children’s well-being.
How and by whom is their work funded/commissioned?
The Youth Justice Board provides funding to Yots, supplementing local funding arrangements from the five local statutory partners (police, probation service, health, social services and education).
What is their average salary?
According to public sector union Unison, it is impossible to give an average figure for a Yot worker because they are all employed by different agencies and have different terms and conditions.
What is the normal training/qualification route?
The YJB has developed the Youth Justice National Qualifications Framework (NQF), which provides a way into youth justice work for those with and without relevant qualifications. The new framework includes: the Professional Certificate in Effective Practice (Youth Justice), which offers a core professional qualification in youth justice to both new and experienced practitioners; foundation degrees for people who are currently practitioners and those wanting to move into the field; and the Youth Justice Gateway Programme, which provides a range of access routes into the framework.
What is their biggest gripe?
Yot workers feel there is sometimes a lack of knowledge and appreciation about what they do and who they are.