Agenda item

Rotherham Youth Justice Service Progress Report

This report provides a summary of progress made by Rotherham Youth Justice Service against the following:


  • The Action Plan submitted to the Youth Justice Board (YJB) in January 2021 following the HMIP Inspection in September 2020.


  • Progress against the ‘Areas for Consideration,’ from the Youth Justice Board (YJB) Sector Led Improvement Peer Review, undertaken in March 2022.


  • An update on the actions within the Youth Justice Service Plan 2022-23 Action Plan.



The accompanying presentation will also highlight recent performance and focus on an area of good practice.



The Chair advised that as the item contained restricted information and as resolved in Minute 97, that the Panel would go into private session for the consideration of this item.


The Chair welcomed the service user and support worker to the meeting. The Chair invited the support worker to introduce the service user and discuss their journey within the Youth Justice Service.


The support worker outlined the circumstances that led to the nine-month referral order being applied. It was advised that the service user had engaged well with the service and completed all required offence specific work. There was a good working relationship between the service user and support worker. The service user had made great achievements since beginning the referral order, such as sitting their GCSE examinations and applying for further education.


The Chair thanked the service user and support worker for attending and invited questions, this led to the following points being raised during discussions:


                 The CHANCE group had been established with the aim of making services friendlier for children and young people.

                 The Youth Justice Service were hopeful that the service user present would work with the service to help them share experiences and provide suggested areas for improvement.


The Chair reconvened the meeting in open session.


This report provided a summary of progress made by Rotherham Youth Justice Service against the following:


          The Action Plan submitted to the Youth Justice Board (YJB) in January 2021 following the HMIP Inspection in September 2020.

          Progress against the ‘Areas for Consideration,’ from the Youth Justice Board (YJB) Sector Led Improvement Peer Review, undertaken in March 2022.

          An update on the actions within the Youth Justice Service Plan 2022-23 Action Plan.

          Key Priorities for the Youth Justice Plan 2023-2024.


The Chair invited David McWilliams, Assistant Director of Early Help and Family Engagement and Chair of the Rotherham Youth Justice Partnership Board, Zulfiqar Shaffi, Youth Justice Service Manager and Abigail Henser, Senior Family Support Worker and Programme Facilitator to introduce the report and give the presentation.


The presentation gave an overview of the following content:


                 The three action plans provided showed that all 81 actions had been completed, with robust evidence and scrutiny provided such as the Evidence Challenge Panel, CYPS Performance Assurance Board and the Safer Rotherham Partnership. The Challenge Panel was multi-agency. The Evidence Challenge Panel was multi-agency and provided scrutiny by challenging the action plans. The outcomes of the Evidence Challenge Panel were provided to the Children’s Services Performance Management Boardwhere the evidence and progress was scrutinised. The service also reported to the Safer Rotherham Partnership on a quarterly basis where progress to the action plans was discussed.

                 The first-time entrance (FTE) was defined as young people who received a youth conditional caution or court order. Rotherham had a reduction of 21% percent, compared to the same period in 2021. Rotherham’s FTE was lower than the national and regional Police Crime Commissioner (PCC) area, and the youth justice family average.

                 The reduction coincided with the development and implementation of the Out of Court Panel, which was a multi-agency panel that provided scrutiny and decision making, in relation to the process of referrals received by the service from the police.

                 Rotherham’s re-offending rate was the second lowest in comparison to other districts and included the average number of re-offences committed per child. The re-offending rate was tracked via the police national computer (PNC) and there was an eighteen-month delay on the data due to a combination of a twelve-month wait to see if a young person re-offended and a six month wait to incorporate criminal proceedings.

                 There was also a binary re-offending rate that was based on the proportion of children who offended more than once. Rotherham was under half of the national average.

                 In terms of scrutiny, the service was monitored against the rates of serious youth violence, which was based on convictions and associated sentences. In 2022 there was no serious youth violence and as of the 24th of July 2023 there was one young person sentenced for serious youth violence.

                 There were different types of orders within the youth justice service, including preventions. There was a lot of on-going prevention work taking place such as the ‘Be Share Aware Programme’. The aim was to complete early intervention with young people who had not yet offended but were high risk of potential offending, at the earliest possible stage.

                 There was a development area within the service that was focused on the breakdown of each out of court disposal offered to children and young people, to provide additional scrutiny and to ensure the right out of court disposal was given to the child or young person.

                 The service had started to break down definitions of ethnicities, for example rather than only having ‘White’ as a definition, there was now multiple options such as ‘White European’ and ‘White British’ This was an on-going piece of work to tackle disproportionality and un-conscious bias.

                 The key priorities of the service for the period of 2023 to 2024 was to focus on early interventions and prevention, health and wellbeing, education, training and employment and quality of practise.

                 In relation to early interventions and preventions, the service would focus on the following:

o   Continuing to develop and strengthen the board oversight of the effectiveness of Out of Court Disposals and the Breach of Statutory Orders decision making across the partnership.

o   Working across the partnership to improve and strengthen the Youth Justice Service and Early Help ‘Prevention’ Offer.

o   Continuing to better understand diverse children and young people in the youth justice system and respond to any over representation of groups.

o   Focusing on developing and co-producing a South Yorkshire Police & Youth Justice Service approach to the Out of Court offer & the Serious Violence Strategy.

                 In relation to health and wellbeing, the service would focus on the following:

o   Ensuring all children entering the Youth Justice System had full Health Assessments to address any unmet needs at the earliest possible stage to inform the assessment.

o   Aiming to offer Speech and language Screening/Assessments to all children open to the YJS.  These assessments would inform the developmental approach to support young people’s understanding of their interventions.

o   Strengthening the relationship with mental health services and to increase wider provision across the Youth Justice Service

                 In relation to education, training and employment, the service would focus on the following:

o   Developing and strengthening the Youth Justice SEND offer to assist children to overcome barriers and achieve their full potential.

o   Understanding and responding to NEET children in the Youth Justice System and to develop support pathways into education, training, and employment.

o   Supporting children to be ‘ready’ and prepared for Education, training, and employment through new and existing partnerships.

                 In relation to quality of practise, the service would focus on the following:

o   Delivering innovative and creative evidence-based programmes that would engage children and young people.

o   Focusing on the Partnership Boards continuing development a problem-solving approach to issues and challenges.

o   Strengthening and broadening the Youth Justice audit framework as well as undertaking thematic audits and closing the learning loop.


                 The ‘Be Share Aware’ programme was focused on educating children and young people on the consequences of sharing and receiving indecent images online. The programme was delivered on a one-to-one basis with children and young people within schools who had shared, received, or sent indecent images.

                 The programme was based on research, information available regarding online safety and the relevant legislation.

                 There were certain areas throughout the borough that had higher referral rates into the programme, therefore targeted work with schools within those area’s was completed. As a result of this, the programme was extended to all children and young people within school settings, who had not committed any offences regarding indecent images.

                 The programme included a role play scenario, a video shared on ‘think before you share’ and a discussion around social media and cyber bullying.

                 The service had good links with the Community Safety Team and any concerns regarding specific websites were shared with the Team. As a response, the Community Safety Team developed bulletins that were shared with schools, Social Care and Early Help.

                 The ‘Be Share Aware’ Programme was adapted on a regular basis to include any new concerning websites. Omegle was an example of a concerning website that was popular amongst young people, the website was designed to talk to strangers and this posed a high risk to children and young people.

                 The outcomes of the sessions were captured and evidenced via an evaluation form completed by the attendees. The evaluation form included three questions, scored between 0-10, the questions were signs of safety led and focused on knowing the law around sharing indecent images, sending indecent images and feeling safer online.


Resolved: That


                 Members note the contents of the report and the progress of the Youth Justice Service in completing the three accompanying action plans.

                 Members note the offer to engage with the CHANCE Group and the offer to visit and observe aspects of the Rotherham Youth Justice Service duties.

                 That the ‘Be Share Aware’ Programme resources are distributed to members.

                 That the presentation be circulated to the Commission.


Supporting documents: