Youth justice system - attending court
If a young person is arrested and charged with an offence, they may have to appear at court to be tried or sentenced.
In most cases, young people who attend court will be sentenced to a Community Order rather than Custody.
What is a Community Order?
Community orders, sometimes known as community sentences, allow judges or magistrates to tailor a sentence to meet the needs of the offender.
The Derby Youth Justice Service (YJS) is responsible for supervising the young person whilst on a Community Order and ensuring they complete all the requirements.
A Community Order is based on the needs and risks of each individual young person. The YJS identifies these needs and risks by undertaking an assessment with the young person and their family. This assessment enables the YJS to identify suitable programmes with the intention of preventing further offending. These programmes nearly always include an element of restorative justice and may include specialist support such as:
- emotional and mental health
- education, training and employment
- housing and/or substance misuse.
The assessment will also identify what the YJS will require of the young person. For instance, how often the young person will need to be seen by the YJS?
What types of Community Orders are there?
A Referral order information leaflet is usually given to a young offender who appears in court for the first time, and pleads guilty. A Referral Order can last between 3 and 12 months depending on what the court requests.
Once the court has made a Referral Order, the young offender is required to attend a Youth Offender Panel made up of two trained volunteer community members and an officer from the YJS. The young offenders parents are asked to attend and any victims of the young person’s offences will also be invited to attend.
At the panel meeting, the offence is discussed with the young person and their parents and the views of the victims are listened to. The panel will then draw up a contract with the young offender to address the needs and issues of the young person. The young offender is expected to comply with this contract for the duration of their order. If the young offender fails to agree a contract or fails to abide by it during the term of the order, the case is referred back to the court for re-sentencing.
When a young person successfully completes their Referral Order it is immediately removed from their criminal record.
Reparation Orders are designed to help young offenders understand the consequences of their offending and take responsibility for their behaviour. They require the young person to repair the harm caused by their offence either directly to the victim or indirectly to the community. Examples of this might be cleaning up graffiti or undertaking community work.
Youth Rehabilitation Order
A Youth rehabilitation order information leaflet (YRO) is a Court Order which may be given to young people under the age of 18 years old when they are being sentenced for committing a criminal offence.
The order can be made for any period up to three years and there are no restrictions on the number of times a young offender can be sentenced.
A YRO will contain one or more requirements, decided by the court, which may include a young person meeting with a worker from the YJS. The young person may also be required to comply with other activities such as unpaid work, a curfew or live where they are told. The number of times the young offender will have to be seen depends on the level of risk which will be assessed by the YOS.
The main custodial sentence given to young offenders is the Detention and Training Order (DTO) which lasts from four months to two years.
When a young offender is sentenced in court to a DTO, the young person will spend the first half of the sentence in custody and the second half in the community under the supervision of the YJS.
The court can also require that Intensive Supervision and Surveillance (ISS) is part of the community element of the DTO.
ISS is a special programme for serious and prolific young offenders. It helps very troubled young people to turn their lives around. ISS provides 3 months of High Intensity supervision - at least 25 hours each week, supported by a home curfew and electronic tagging. If they stay out of trouble, they reduce to five to 10 hours of weekly supervision for another three months.
During this time, the young person is closely monitored by YOS staff, by their local Police and by an electronic tag attached to their ankle. Failure to co-operate with the rules means going back to court.