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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Youth offending teams: what they are

Youth offending teams will help you if you get into trouble with the law. They look into your background problems and help you get your life back on track. Find out what youth offending teams do and how they can help you.

Youth offending teams - what they do

If you get into trouble with the law, your local youth offending team will be there to support and supervise you.

They will also help your family, if needed. They do this in different ways, and can get involved if:

  • you get into trouble with the police or you get arrested
  • you are charged with a crime and have to go to court
  • you are convicted of a crime and given a sentence

There will usually be a caseworker in the youth offending team so you and your family only have to deal with one person.

Youth offending teams are part of the local council

Who youth offending teams are

Youth offending teams are part of the local council and are separate from the police and the courts.

They work with:

  • police
  • probation officers
  • health, housing and children’s services
  • schools and education authorities
  • the local community

Looking into your background

One of the first things a youth offending team will do is to give you an assessment.

This looks into your background to see if there are any problems causing you to get into trouble, like:

  • not attending school
  • family breakdown
  • drugs or alcohol

The team will talk to you, your family and anyone involved with looking after you - like social services or your school. This assessment will be used to make sure that any problems you have are dealt with. For example, if you have any health problems the team will contact local health services to make sure you get the help you need.

If you get into trouble with the law but aren’t arrested

Youth offending teams sometimes get involved if it looks like you might get into trouble with the law.

For example, you might be taking drugs or drinking while you should be at school. Even if you’re not arrested, behaving like this might mean that you could start getting involved with crime.

In these cases, the team can give you help to stop you committing crime.

For example, you might be skipping school because you find the lessons hard, or you’re not getting on with someone there.

The youth offending team may provide you with a mentor to help with your lessons or talk about your problems at school.

If you are arrested by the police

If you get arrested, the police will usually call someone from the local youth offending team.

They won’t be able to give you legal advice, but they can support you and your family by answering questions about what is happening and what will happen next.

To find out more, follow the link ‘If a young person is taken to a police station’ below. This is usually when the youth offending team first get involved with you if you get into trouble with the law.

If you are charged with a crime and have to go to court

If you are charged with a crime, you will have to go to court. The youth offending team may produce a report for the court called a ‘pre-sentence report’. The court uses this report to help it make a decision about sentencing. The team may also support you and your family throughout the process of going to court.

If a court gives you a community sentence

If you are found guilty of a crime, the court might give you a community sentence.

Community sentences can include work like cleaning up graffiti or making up for what you have done.

The youth offending team will usually supervise you if you’re given a community sentence. This means they make sure you obey the rules set out by your sentence.

This could include meeting with you regularly to check on your behaviour. To find out more about being supervised, follow the link ‘Young people: what happens when serving a community sentence’ below.

If you are sent to custody

If the court sentences you to custody, it means you will be locked up. To find out what this will be like, follow the link ‘Young people and custody’ below.

When you’re in custody, the youth offending team will be in constant contact with you.

They will work with you to help you to prepare for a normal life when you leave custody. This could mean making sure you have somewhere safe to live, or are able to get back into education.

Additional links

Legal advice on children's rights

Free legal advice about children and the law from the Children's Legal Centre (freephone advice)

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