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9.2.4 Managing Risk to Staff from Clients


  1. Introduction
  2. Risk of What?
  3. Prior to Personal Contact with the Client
  4. Office Appointments
  5. Home Visits / Non-Office Appointments
  6. Risk Assessment and Case Management
  7. Week-end Working
  8. Where an Incident takes Place
  9. Travel with Young People
  10. Sessional Staff / Volunteers

1. Introduction

1.1 The Youth Offending Service (Youth Offending Service) is a multi-disciplinary team, with staff seconded from a range of professional agencies. As a result there exists a wealth of experience within the team, which facilitates the achievement of the key aims and objectives of the service.
1.2 Each agency contributing a member of staff to the team has its own policies and procedures in relation to personnel and professional issues. However, in order to maintain some consistency and accountability across the team membership, the Youth Offending Service management has developed core procedures and policies which apply to all staff.
1.3 It is not intended that these local Youth Offending Service guidelines replace those held by agencies and care has been taken to ensure that they do not contradict them. Rather they are to be seen as guidance which complements that provided by the host agencies whilst providing a framework of support and stability for each member of staff in the team. Youth Offending Service staff should be clear of the expectations that are placed on them and their colleagues, as well as the support and guidance they should expect from management.
1.4 The implementation of this policy will be discussed as part of the induction programme and staff will sign to demonstrate that they have understood its contents.

2. Risk of What?

2.1 This document focuses only on the risk posed to staff by service users. Inappropriate behaviour towards colleagues is dealt with under separate procedures.
2.2 The Youth Offending Service management believes that all workers in the team have the right to work in an environment which is free from threat, intimidation or abuse from clients. 

The document has two main aims:

  • To raise the awareness of all team members of personal safety matters;
  • To identify practical steps to reduce risk where at all possible.
2.4 It is not possible to prescribe for every eventuality; however risk assessment in terms of his or her own personal safety should be a theme that underpins the work of each team member. Risk assessments should be continually reviewed as circumstances and relationships develop.
2.5 Any deviation from the guidelines below must be discussed with the Operational manager before being carried out and recorded on the case file.

3. Prior to Personal Contact with the Client


Before meeting with the young person and his/her carers the allocated worker should ensure that they check both the name and the family address on:

  • Careworks;
  • The council's restricted person register;
  • Protocol, the social services client system.

The purpose of these checks is to identify any previous incidents of aggressive behaviour by family members towards representatives of statutory agencies.

3.2 Additional enquiries with Youth Offending Service police officers will also be useful in identifying potential difficulties.
3.3 Where the information available suggests some risk may be present the Operational Manager must be advised and the means of reducing this risk identified and recorded on the case file.
3.4 Where from the information available the degree of risk has been identified as high it may be appropriate for the first meeting to take place at the Youth Offending Service office and joint interview may be appropriate.
3.5 Confirmation that the risk assessment for a home visit has been completed should be recorded on Careworks (personal details page/address tab - click current address and add comments).

4. Office Appointments

4.1 Young people and their carers visiting the office should not be allowed access to the office areas until the worker is available to see them. Similarly after the appointment they must be escorted out of the building.
4.2 Young people who arrive more than five minutes early for an appointment, and for whom the worker is not ready, will be asked to return at the appropriate time. Where young people arrive late for appointments the person with whom they have an appointment will decide whether or not they can be seen and will go to reception to advise the young person him or herself. This is not a task for the admin team.
4.3 No young person will be left for more than five minutes in the reception area for his or her appointment. The administration team will advise the Duty Manager where young people appear to have been waiting for more than five minutes.
4.4 If the reception staff have any concerns about the behaviour of the visitor they must alert the allocated worker and the Duty Manager. As a general rule anyone who appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs will not be allowed into the building. Possible exceptions to this may be where young vulnerable clients are felt to be at risk if left unsupervised and in need of safe transport home/medical attention. Any decision needs to be made with the Duty Manager.
4.5 Young people are not to bring friends to appointments and where the young person is subject to an intervention, reference to this should be included in their contract. Friends must not be allowed to wait on site for an appointment to finish and should be discouraged from waiting in the immediate vicinity of the front door as this can feel intimidating to other young people and visitors.
4.6 Clients must not be left unsupervised within the building. This will require workers to plan their programmes and ensure that they have all the material they will need for their sessions.
4.7 Appointments should take place in rooms where there is an alarm button and all staff should be aware of where the button is. As a general rule staff should ensure that they are sitting where they have access to the button and closest to the door for a quick exit if required.
4.8 Where risk issues have been identified prior to interview the worker must ensure that the interview room used is easily accessible by other staff should difficulties arise. The senior on site should be notified prior to the appointment taking place and have positioned themselves within easy access of the room.
4.9 Rooms where interviews are taking place should be checked prior to the meeting to ensure there are no unnecessary items in the room that could cause injury to staff.
4.10 Clients must not be seen in the building when there are no other members of staff present on site. The allocated worker should make arrangements in advance with colleagues to ensure cover, particularly when evening appointments are made. If there is no cover available clients must be seen in one of the interview rooms in main reception in the Civic Centre.

5. Home Visits / Non-Office Appointments

5.1 Home visits are required to check living circumstances and familial arrangements and are a requirement for most statutory interventions as per national standards. Home visits should not take place until there has been an opportunity to undertake a provisional risk assessment of the young person and carer, the outcomes of which should be recorded on Careworks (see paragraph 3.5).
5.2 A check of the address and family name with Youth Offending Service police colleagues will inform the risk assessment.
5.3 Where a risk has been identified the allocated officer should discuss this with their line manager and practical arrangements made to minimise this risk in so far as possible e.g. joint visiting.
5.4 In general young people should not be seen at home on their own. Some young people may, however, be living independently and decisions regarding home visits should be made on a case by case basis against a framework of risk assessment.
5.5 All staff undertaking visits/appointments with young people outside of the office should have with them a mobile phone which should be left on so they are contactable by their colleagues.
5.6 All appointments outside the office should be recorded on the home visit log sheet team diary. Where staff are significantly overdue from their estimated return time the receptionist will make efforts to contact them on the mobile phone. If unsuccessful the duty manager should be notified.
5.7 Where late afternoon/early evening appointments are taking place outside of the building the worker should notify the duty senior. The worker should then contact the duty senior when they have finished the home visit prior to going home or attending any subsequent appointments.

6. Risk Assessment and Case Management

6.1 AssetPlus incorporates an assessment of risk of harm and requires a judgement to be reached by the practitioner. This should be discussed and agreed with the line manager who will complete the relevant field on Careworks.
6.2 A risk of harm judgement of medium or above must be shared at the Risk Panel. The risks identified in the assessment will be shared, their management discussed and the information used to inform the intervention planning. Risks identified through assessment will also inform any proposal being made for court or interventions recommended to the Referral Order Panel.
6.3 It must be acknowledged that the risk presented to staff by some young people may render them unsuitable for a particular order. Any court report must reflect this even where a custodial sentence may be the only alternative.
6.4 Where a young person is identified as presenting a high risk and receives a custodial sentence, the time spent in custody must be used to ensure all appropriate assessments are undertaken which may inform subsequent work undertaken and risk management upon release.
6.5 Any contract with a young person must note that violence or abuse to staff will not be tolerated and that a young person found to be abusive, either physically or verbally, risks police action and being breached for their current court order.

7. Week-end Working

7.1 A manager is on duty each week-end and this is shown on the duty list. Sessional staff and volunteers will be notified each week who the duty manager is for that week-end.

Any member of staff planning to work at the week-end must notify the duty manager of the following:

  • What work they are undertaking;
  • With whom;
  • Where;
  • Start time and finish time;
  • Contact number.
7.3 The Interventions co-ordinator and the Victim Engagement Restorative Justice Officer will notify the duty manager of any sessionals or volunteers working over the week-end, with the details noted above.
7.4 At the end of the session the worker must contact the duty manager to advise that they have finished.

8.  Where an Incident takes Place

8.1 All staff must make themselves aware of the Council’s Violence to Employees at Work Policy and the Accident Reporting Policy - both are available on Horizon, the council web site.
8.2 Where a worker feels that a client’s behaviour is unacceptable or is escalating into a potentially abusive situation, they should terminate the interview and ask the young person to leave seeking support from colleagues where necessary. Where a worker feels under threat it is appropriate to take immediate action, which may include contacting the security staff in the Civic for assistance.
8.3 Where a staff member has been physically assaulted the police must be notified immediately. Where injuries may have been sustained either the Restorative Justice Worker who is the team’s qualified 1st Aider, or Security from the Civic Centre should be contacted for initial treatment or assessment
8.4 Following an incident against staff a young person will be asked to leave the building and not to return until further notice. The parent must be updated as soon as possible by phone. A letter confirming this position will be sent to the young person and a copy sent to the parent/carer.
8.5 Following an incident the duty manager will meet with the relevant worker for a debrief. The immediate action will be agreed with respect to whether or not the police should be involved. This consultation does not take away the right of either party to seek police assistance if they so wish. The manager will check what additional support the member of staff may require; this may include referral of the counselling available via the council.
8.6 Following an incident the staff member must complete an incident/accident report. This is done electronically on the Optima Oshens system (Accident/incident reporting system ) which is accessible via Horizon. If the individual concerned is unable to complete the report this will be done by a colleague, preferably a witness, or a manager. The system will automatically generate an investigation by a manager including findings on appropriate action to be taken in the future.
8.7 A violent incident meeting will be held within 24 hours chaired by a manager and involving the responsible officer, any other practitioners available and a representative from the admin team.

The primary objectives of the meeting will be to will be to:

  • Review the incident, and immediate actions and ensure appropriate policies and procedures had been followed;
  • Identify any learning points for the team as a whole on H&S issues;
  • Review the young person’s behaviour particularly with respect to future risk and whether they should be placed on the council’s at risk register;
  • To conclude whether the young person will be breached immediately or whether alternative action is appropriate.

The agreed action will be put in writing to the young person.

9. Travel with Young People

9.1 Where a young person is not allocated within the team and needs to be transported, for example to a placement, a risk assessment should be undertaken. In reality the asset and bail assessment processes are likely to have taken place as part of the due process. Any staff member who feels concerned about the transportation of a particular young person on the basis of identified risk should advise an operational manager.
9.2 Young people placed in secure accommodation through as a result of welfare concerns should have a mobility agreement as part of their care plan and travel arrangements should be made in accordance with that plan.

10. Sessional Staff / Volunteers

10.1 Sessional staff and volunteer mentors are to refer to the Booking Form document prior to meeting any young person. The information on the Booking Form includes information pertaining to; risk of harm, risk of reoffending and any safeguarding concerns. Sessional staff and volunteer mentors should familiarise themselves with the information contained on the Booking Form and should seek guidance from their line manager where there are any concerns. Case managers should ensure information provided on the Booking form is accurate and updates should be made when there is a change in circumstances.
10.2 Sessional staff and volunteer mentors should ensure the booking Form is kept safe and confidential and should be securely disposed of once the work with the young person has ended.
10.3 Sessional staff and volunteer mentors should always contact the duty manager at the end of a session and if they have any concerns throughout the session.