Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the different stages of the youth justice process?
The youth justice process begins with active measures dealing with the prevention of crime and, when all other measures have failed, can end with a custodial sentence. However, it doesn't automatically follow that a young person will progress from one stage to the next: the level of intervention is matched to their offending and level of risk at any one time.
2. What age young people does the Youth Justice Service work with?
The criminal age of responsibility in England and Wales is 10 years of age and the YJS works with young people from this age up to the age of 17. If a young person turns 18 and is still on a court order, we will usually continue to work with them until the end of that order.
In addition, Community Youth Teams work with young people aged 8-19 years who have been identified as being at risk of engaging in anti-social and offending behaviour.
3. What does it mean for a parent if your child becomes involved with the youth justice system?
If your child becomes involved with the youth justice system at any level, the Community Youth Team or Youth Justice Service will work closely with you to plan how to support your child to change their behaviour. This might include the opportunity to voluntarily attend a parenting programme, if you think it would be useful. However, if a court believes that you need a parenting programme to help stop your child offending, and that you may not attend voluntarily, they can impose a Parenting Order, which would legally require your attendance.
4. Can anyone refer a young person to Sheffield Youth Justice Service?
Anyone can refer a young person to the Community Youth Teams. The Youth Justice Service only works with young people referred to us through formal routes by the Courts or South Yorkshire Police.
5. How and why does Sheffield Youth Justice Service assess young people?
Research has shown that children and young people who offend have multiple needs that must be identified and addressed in order to reduce their risk of offending or reoffending. Sheffield YJS uses a range of assessments to identify the needs of young people, the risk they present to themselves and others, and the likelihood of them offending or reoffending. These assessments require us to speak to the young person, their parents or carers, and other services that have worked with them or their family; and to gather information about their criminal history (if they have already offended), education, health, family, environment and attitudes.
We use the information from these assessments to protect the public and create programmes of activities for the young person that address their needs and reduce the likelihood of offending. The YJS constantly review these assessments and update them when a young person’s circumstances change.
6. What service can the victims of crime expect from Sheffield Youth Justice Service?
A document called the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime sets out the minimum level of service victims of crime should expect from the criminal justice system. Any victim of crime has the right to be kept up to date about all stages of the criminal case, and victims who are under 18 or who are vulnerable for another reason will get extra assistance. Victims should also be offered the chance to take part in restorative justice (see below).
Our Victim Liaison Officers are employed by Remedi, a third-sector organisation which specialises in restorative services.
7. What is restorative justice?
According to the Restorative Justice Council, restorative justice is about victims and offenders communicating within a controlled environment to talk about the harm that has been caused and finding a way to repair that harm. For offenders, the experience can be incredibly challenging as it confronts them with the personal impact of their crime. For victims, meeting the person who has harmed them can be a huge step in moving forward and recovering from the crime.
Restorative justice is an important part of youth justice measures at all levels. The most commonly used restorative processes are:
- Victim-Offender Mediation: The victim and offender, helped by an independent person, communicate with one another. This may be by direct meeting, facilitated by a third person; or indirectly, with the third person acting as ‘go between’ in a ‘shuttle mediation’. Questions may be asked, information exchanged and an agreement reached.
- Restorative Conferencing: Supporters, as well as victim and offender, meet together in a conference run by a trained person. At the end, agreements are made that set out what the offender will do to deal with the harm done.
- Family Group Conferencing: The young person who has offended, with members of his/her extended family, meet with the victim and supporters of the victim and possibly representatives of agencies, e.g. social services and schools. The meeting is run by an independent third person and after all views have been stated, the family have a private meeting time to create a plan, which is then put to the whole conference for acceptance.
- Referral Order Youth Offender Panels: Young offenders who have been convicted for the first time at court, and their parents, meet with trained community volunteer panel members to discuss the offence and its consequences and agree a contract to repair the harm and address the causes of offending behaviour. Victims may be invited to attend if they wish, or have their views put before the panel.
- Reparation: see below.
8. What is Reparation?
Reparation is a practical way to pay back for the harm caused by the offence, either by directly repairing the harm or through constructive work to help the local community. The victim is usually consulted about what should be done. Reparation can include:
- Reparation to the Victim: For example, an verbal or written apology, financial compensation or supervised activity for the victim.
- Community Reparation: Includes a variety of activities to ‘pay back’ benefits to the community, including work similar to community service activity.
9. Can I get a work experience placement at the Youth Justice Service?
Unfortunately not. We have found that there are too many issues surrounding case responsibility and client confidentiality to be able to offer meaningful work experience placements. However, you can volunteer in various roles in the service - see below.
10. Can I volunteer at the Youth Justice Service?
Yes! There are opportunities for volunteers to gain experience, understanding and knowledge of the work within the youth justice system, help young people, and benefit the community as a whole.