Template for a cut in offending

As the manager of a youth offending team (Yot) I have been
heartened by suggestions that Yots could be a blueprint for
addressing adults’ reoffending. Offering adult offenders the same
type of rehabilitative, protective network of support that Yots
offer young offenders would help local authorities stem the cycle
of reoffending.

Most offenders will commit further crimes within two years of
their release from prison. If behaviour is to be changed then the
various services, including the prisons, must work together at a
local level.

The Yot model is a successful one. It represents a relatively
cheap, local, multi-agency team which works with individuals to
address the causes of their offending, helping individuals to
become self-aware members of the community. Yots also work with
communities to prevent youth offending and antisocial

But Yots cannot stand alone in ensuring councils provide a
tangible level of assistance to the criminal justice system.
However, by working with other directorates such as housing,
education and community safety, councils could provide a powerful,
joined-up service, at grass-roots level, to plug the dangerous gap
in the route from prison to community.

There are barriers to overcome. For example, probation officers
used to be respected members of local communities who were able to
pull together local resources to stop offending. But the National
Offender Management Service (Noms) has seen probation move from
being a locally responsive service to part of a national,
politically driven one.

While it is generally accepted that the criminal justice system
has a low profile locally, the introduction of local criminal
justice boards, which are responsible for achieving targets, should
improve performance, build public confidence and ensure that all
agencies work together on key priorities.

Reducing the unnecessary use of expensive and destructive
custody is a key aim. But it can only be achieved if all local
agencies, including the local council, follow the same agenda.

David Stonehouse is head of Havering’s Yot and assistant
secretary of the Association of Yot Managers.


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