Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service

When a child or young person either admits an offence, or is found guilty after trial, the Court will impose a sentence.  Some sentences involve working with the Youth Offending Service and others don’t.  The sentences that don’t involve NYOS are things like:

Fines – where paying money is the sentence – the Court will say how much has to be paid and how often.

Compensation – this isn’t supposed to be a punishment, this is to pay back the victim for what they have lost.  The Court will say how much has to be paid and how often.

Discharges – this is where the Court decides someone is guilty, but decides not to punish them further at that time, they will be given a 'discharge'. They are given for minor offences and there are two types: 

  • an 'absolute discharge' means that no more action will be taken
  • a 'conditional discharge' means that the offender won't be punished - unless they commit another offence within a set period of time

The sentences that do involve NYOS include:

Reparation Order (RepO)

A Reparation Order is made by the Court when there is a need to pay back the community in some way, but the offence is at the less serious end of the scale and/or there is no significant additional work to be done with the young person.  The Order is made for a maximum of 24 hours, and the work must be completed within 3 months of the Order being made.

Referral Order (RO)

A Referral Order contains a significant restorative element and is therefore only available for a child or young person who pleads guilty, but the Court can use it several times if appropriate.  The Court will refer the child or young person to a Youth Offender Panel who will help draw up and monitor the implementation of a Contract of work.  The aim is to prevent a repetition of the behaviour and take a clearly restorative approach to the offence and any harm done. 

The Order can last from 3 to 12 months, and does not start until the contract is signed at Panel.  The Panel comprises Volunteers from the Community.  These people are recruited, trained and managed by NYOS, but are independent of the organisation in terms of their decision making.  The level of contact on the Order will be decided by the assessment – called the Scaled Approach.  The Contract will be delivered by the Case Manager and any other relevant/specialist members of N- YOS. In very serious cases (as an alternative to Custody) the Court may make an Intensive Referral Order which involves a higher intensity of work with the young person.  

Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO)

A YRO is available for children and young people who come into the Court for the first time and are found guilty, and for those appearing for a second or subsequent offence.  A YRO can last for up to three years and can have one or more of a menu of 18 different requirements attached to it e.g. Supervision, Programme, Activity, Curfew.  It was designed in this way specifically to allow Courts to return to it on multiple occasions, matching the requirements imposed to the seriousness of the behaviour and the needs of the child or young person at the time. 

The Case Manager will draw up an Intervention Plan in discussion with the child or young person and their parent/carer.  The level of contact on the Order will be decided by the assessment – called the Scaled Approach.  The Intervention Plan will be delivered by the Case Manager and any other relevant/specialist members of NYOS or partner agencies who agree to their involvement.

Youth Rehabilitation Order with Intensive Supervision and Surveillance (YRO with ISS)

A YRO with ISS is available to the Court as a direct alternative to custody.  Like the YRO, it can last for up to three years and a menu of options is available to the Court, but this includes Intensive Supervision and Surveillance, delivered by the YOS partner agency, Catch22.  As part of the Order, the child or young person is subject to an Electronically Monitored Curfew and expected to comply with a programme involving up to 25 hours per week of contact in the initial months of the Order.

Detention and Training Order (DTO) and other Custodial Sentences

The DTO is the most frequently used Custodial sentence for children and young people.  It can last for a period of: 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 18 or 24 months.  A DTO is the only custodial sentence available in the Youth Court.  The Crown Court can make DTOs and can also make sentences that last for much longer than this. Custodial sentences should only be made if, in the opinion of the Court, no other outcome is appropriate.  This is because research evidence suggests that children and young people who go into custody are more likely to re-offend on release than those who remain in the community. 

A young person subject to a Custodial sentence will spend part of the sentence in the Secure Estate and part in the community, subject to a Licence which is supervised by NYOS.  The process of assessment, planning and interventions is similar to that for all Court outcomes.


NYOS is bound by National Standards in relation to its work.  Where children and young people do not comply with their Court Order, the YOS is required to return them to Court.  The Court can choose to re-sentence them for their original offence, or to punish them for the Breach.