The Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (‘YJB’) have updated their case management guidance, their manual for Youth Justice Services (‘YJS’) practitioners.
This guidance is intended to provide YJS practitioners with information, implications of legislation and practical advice on how to work with children and young people in the youth justice system. It accompanies the Lord Chancellor’s national standards for children in the youth justice system, which set out the minimum statutory expectations for services. The guidance was last updated in 2019.
It is a crucial resource and covers the full range of the work undertaken by YJS practitioners. This includes, among others:
- How to work with children;
- How to assess children in the youth justice system, what to assess, and the different assessment types;
- How to work in court, fulfil the court duty role, manage intermediaries, and give support to children, parents, and carers;
- Dealing with non-engagement and breach;
- How to work at police stations and manage bail and remand, including bail conditions, bail supervision, breach of bail, bail applications, and youth detention accommodation;
- Case responsibility when a child moves to another area; and
- How to manage transitions of a child from the youth justice service to an adult service and to Probation Service supervision.
Each section of the guidance was reviewed, re-written and tested by a user testing group compiled of sector practitioners and experts. Children and young adults with direct experience were also consulted. The YJB have stated that the guidance now adheres to their guiding principle of being ‘Child First’.
The guidance is also now searchable, so you can quickly find the relevant section or particular issues.
The sections on out-of-court disposals and custody and resettlement are still being reviewed and changes will not be incorporated until the end of 2022 or beginning of 2023. This is expected to reflect a significant change towards a less rigid decision-making process which the NPCC and CPS will align their guidance with.
The guidance is the critical manual for YJS practitioners and should be followed and referred to at all stages of contact with a young person.
Defence practitioners should ensure that members of the YJS are adhering to the guidance when it comes to their relationship and work with their client and if necessary refer to it when communicating with them or in advocacy at court.
For example, if your client has been breached for failing to attend sessions with YJS, you should ensure that all steps have been followed in the section ‘How to respond to non-engagement (‘breach’), and that there have been “exceptional circumstances where all other options for engagement have been unsuccessful”.
Written by Robbie Eyles, Solicitor, Just for Kids Law