Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service

The Northamptonshire Model in practice -  YRO reviews.

Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service (NYOS) and the Northamptonshire Youth Magistrates Panel have been operating out-of-court reviews of Youth Rehabilitation Orders (and occasionally Detention Training Order, licences) since shortly after the publication of Lord Carlile’s Independent Parliamentarian’s Inquiry into the Operation and Effectiveness of the Youth Court in 2014.

Magistrates are invited to attend reviews at the NYOS office, along with the children, their carers and any professionals with a significant role to play in the management of the children’s Orders. The meetings are chaired by front line managers, and whilst being conducted in an informal and child-friendly manner. These meetings are held in a  style that is most accessible to the child. The meetings review progress against the interventions that were proposed to the original sentencing Court.  Children and young people are supported to ensure that the voice of the child is heard to ensure that they understand their progress and have ownership and control over the interventions and work being undertaken with them. These reviews also enables a collaborative approach to overcoming presenting barriers with services being supported to achieve best practice, adapting and responding to needs of the child.

YRO Reviews are held in an informal setting in the NYOS kitchen. Pictured here:-

 YRO review panel2

Along the back: Amy Crawfurd JP; Dominic Goble JP, and ops manager Quentin Goodman. Left and right: YOT workers, Steph Kelley and Paul Wyllie. Foreground: “M”.

In 2015, a preliminary evaluation of Northamptonshire’s model for reviews by Dr Jenni Ward of Middlesex University concluded that “the Youth Order Review Panels are a positive intervention that could be more widely implemented across youth justice services”. Our experience in Northamptonshire suggests significant benefits in terms of securing children’s continued engagement with interventions well beyond the initial period of dynamic work that we know follows sentencing. We have also seen children’s attitudes towards criminal justice institutions changed by their encounters with magistrates who, often to the children’s surprise, demonstrate empathy, interest and concern in their lives and progress. Magistrates also benefit from gaining a deeper understanding of the developmental, social and practical issues faced by the children they sentence.

The process that Northamptonshire has gone through to arrive at its current practice has been evolutionary, and has required a significant culture change on the part of YOS, magistrates and HMCTS colleagues. The current Northamptonshire model, and was developed to give YOTs, magistrates and legal advisors in other areas around the country a starting point from which to develop bespoke operating models that meet their diverse needs. Our experience suggests that a collaborative approach between YOT and magistrates, supported by their legal advisors, will be an absolute prerequisite for any area developing successful local practice based on the Northamptonshire model.

Inspiration for the development of Youth Order Reviews in Northamptonshire was taken from Wrexham YOT, whose “Review and Congratulate” panels were cited as an example of good practice in their 2014 inspection report.

If you require any further information regarding this area of practice please contact NYOS Operations manager Quentin Goodman.