The NPCC guidance on the role of the Youth Justice Service ('YJS') police officer ('the Guidance') aims to support the shared understanding of the YJS police officer’s role, particularly in relation the YJB and the NPCC on the role of the YOT Police Officer.
As per the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, all YJSs must have a police officer. To reduce crime rates and support children within or on the periphery of the justice system in the best way possible, the YJS police officer should be a serving police officer with the relevant skills to carry out the responsibilities outlined below (page 5 and 6 of the Guidance). YJS police officers should be physically present at their assigned YJS while maintaining operational relationships within their force, to facilitate better support for children and integration between the YJS police officer and YJS staff (page 6 of the Guidance).
Responsibilities of the YJS police officers (page 7 to 15 of the Guidance)
YJS police officers have the following key roles:
- Prevention: YJS police officers can reduce the number of children entering the justice system and reoffending by identifying unmet needs through effective assessment and addressing them.
- Diversion: YJS police officers can help children connected to an offence receive an alternative outcome to a criminal record, such as an out-of-court disposal or the police taking no further action. The YJS police officer will research the child's previous history with the justice system and factors contributing to the child's offending behaviour to aid the multi-agency decision making process and proportionality assessment as to the most appropriate outcome for each case.
- Issuing Youth Cautions and Youth Conditional Cautions ('YCs'): While YJS police officers can issue YCs unilaterally, they should ensure that a shared decision is reached through out of court decision making processes. When issuing YCs, barriers to participation (e.g. transport) and hindrance to the child’s education should be considered, and police supervisors should determine the propriety of YJS police officers delivering YCs in full uniform.
- Helping children with court orders: YJS police officers inform and guide children through the court system, answering questions on the various court orders they may face and assessing suitability of proposed bail addresses. YJS police officers are also involved in the management of complex children through attending risk management meetings, liaising with relevant agencies, facilitating communication between YJS and local police, direct interactions with the child and approving the suitability of phone contacts for the child in custody.
- Aiding resettlement: YJS police officers can aid supervision of the child during resettlement into residential settings, ensuring a planned, constructive transition with realistic and enforceable license conditions.
- Furthering restorative justice: YJS police officers may be involved in contacting victims to inform them of case status, and bringing offenders and victims together. With regard to the latter, YJS police officers should consult with the case managers to determine jointly if restorative justice is suitable on such occasion. Restorative justice should not take place if detrimental to the child or victim.
- Children in police custody: The YJS police officer may facilitate information sharing between the YJS and the police about children in police custody.
- Working with the wider police service: An important responsibility of the YJS police officer is to facilitate information flow between the YJS, wider police intelligence and relevant agencies. They should therefore have sufficient clearance to access relevant computer systems to allow for prompt and effective information sharing that promotes case and risk management and better safeguarding.
YJS police officers should aim to exercise their powers in a way that meets the welfare requirements of children and preserves the YJS’ safe environment, but this should not preclude them from making arrests where necessary.
As outlined by the Guidance, the YJS police officer plays a key role within services. This guidance will be an important reference for YJS teams and other professions in understanding how the work of these officers can more effectively support better outcomes for children at risk of, or in, the criminal justice system.
Written by Rei See (Associate) and Maria Korchik (Trainee) at Paul Hastings LLP