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9.5.3 Protocol for the Working Relationship between the Youth Offending Service and the Children's Social Care


This chapter was extensively revised and updated in October 2017 and should be re-read in full.


  1. General
  2. Appropriate Adult Services
  3. Children Looked After by the Local Authority (non-remands)
  4. Children Remanded in Local Authority Accommodation (LASPO 2012 s92)
  5. Remands into Youth Detention Accommodation (LASPO 2012 s98-102)
  6. Custodial Sentences
  7. Referrals from the YOS to the Child Care Services
  8. Referrals from the Social Services Children and Families Team to the YOS

1. General

1.1 This protocol has been developed to provide clarity to managers and practitioners in the Youth Offending Service (YOS)and Children's Social Care (CSC) regarding the interface between the two services, and to support a partnership approach to work with young people (aged10+) and their families who may be known to both.
1.2 Both services have comprehensive assessment systems. The information available in one assessment can significantly inform another, saving time and effort for the practitioner and avoid families repeatedly being asked the same questions by different professionals.
1.3 In all cases of new referrals being made to the either service, enquiries should be made of the other to confirm whether or not they are open cases, who the allocated worker is, the date of the most recent assessment and intervention plan and how these can be accessed.
1.4 The YOS client system, Careworks, is not linked to the Protocol system used in CSC. YOS staff have access to Protocol however not all staff in CSC have access to Careworks and arrangements may be needed to send copies of any relevant documents.
1.5 Good liaison should continue between both parties whilst the case remains open to them, with updates of significant events being shared in a timely manner, for example changes in status, placement changes, new arrests, sentences etc. Care plans and YOS plans should reference, compliment and support each other and where possible be formulated into one document for the young person and their carers (even if the organisations are required to complete specific formats on their systems).
1.6 Both parties should be invited to any formal multi-agency meetings pertaining to the young person and their family the outcomes of which may impact on their service planning and interventions.

2. Appropriate Adult Services

2.1 The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984): Codes of Practice state that the parent or guardian of a juvenile is the most suitable person to attend the police station and act as the appropriate adult. Such an individual is in a better position to assess the child/young person’s level of understanding of the process. Alternatively another adult family member such as grandparent aunt/uncle may attend in their absence.
2.2 Where a child is accommodated, unless there is a restriction on the parent/guardian’s access to the child, it is generally good practice to encourage that person to attend the police station. Where this is not possible an adult who has/shares day to day care of the child, for example a residential officer or foster carer, would be the preferred alternative.
2.3 In those cases where the child is an open case to CSC but not accommodated, and the parent or guardian is unable/unwilling to attend the police station, the allocated case worker who has personal knowledge of the child should act as the appropriate adult if they are available to do so. Good practice suggests that it is preferable that the appropriate adult is someone known to the young person.
2.4 The YOS will provide an appropriate adult in those circumstances where a parent/guardian, family member, primary carer, or social worker is not available. It will do so through its pool of trained volunteers.

See also Appropriate Adult Procedure.

3. Children Looked After by the Local Authority (non-remands)

3.1 This section addresses the roles and responsibilities for those children looked after by the local authority, who become involved in the Youth Justice System.
3.2 A representative of the responsible CSC Team should accompany a looked after child to any youth court hearings they are required to attend. The purpose of their attendance is to provide any information required by the court as to the current and future care plans for the young person which may influence or impact upon the courts decision making. They are also there to support the young person, facilitate their communication with the court and ensure they understand what is happening.
3.3 In exceptional circumstances, where there is no representative of CSC available, the YOS may be able to attend on their behalf. This will need to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis and detailed information regarding the care plan must be provided by the social worker for the hearing.
3.4 Unless there are any restrictions regarding access to their child, the parent or carer should also be encouraged to attend any court hearings.
3.5 Where a child looked after ceases to be a client of the YOS a copy of the closing summary should be forwarded to the Children and Families social worker.

4. Children Remanded in Local Authority Accommodation (LASPO 2012, s92)

4.1 Young people remanded to local authority accommodation by the court during criminal proceedings automatically become Looked After.
4.2 YOS staff in their capacity as court officers will undertake a bail assessment as and when required.
4.3 Where a remand to local authority accommodation seems likely the YOS representative will contact the allocated social worker, where there is one, and the local authority placements team, who will initiate the appropriate placement authorisation process.
4.4 The authorisation process will be prioritised by CSC. The court may want to know more details of the placement in order to consider whether or not additional conditions will also need to be imposed.
4.5 As soon as they are available the YOS representative will fax to the placements team the bail assessment form and any other remand details in order to assist with the search for suitable accommodation. If the young person is already an open case to the YOS the latest Assetplus assessment will also be forwarded.
4.6 The YOS will provide an initial assessment of suitability for placement with parent/carer (unless the court has stipulated that the young person should not be placed at home). This assessment will consider the nature of the offence for which the young person has been remanded as well the likelihood of committing further offences. However, the final responsibility for the placement decision will rest with the relevant CSC and the placement service.

Given that in remanding a young person into local authority accommodation the court has already taken a view that the home environment is not suitable to manage the risk of the young person committing no further offences or failing to attend court, the local authority will not place at home unless:

  • There are clear reasons for such a placement, which are not based on consideration of resources but on assessment of the young person’s circumstances and needs and the ability of available placements to meet these needs;
  • Additional support and supervision during the Remand period is negotiated with the YOS;
  • A visit to the home has been conducted by CSC to ensure that the family is clear as to the implications of the change in the young person’s remand status;
  • The court is aware of the local authority’s intention.
The occasions when a young person who is RILAA is placed at home will be extremely rare.
4.8 When the remand has been made by the court the placements team will be advised and arrangements made with CSC for the collection and transfer of the young person to the placement.
4.9 The YOS will provide details about subsequent court appearances and any other relevant information to CSC. This will be sent by e-mail to the allocated worker It is the responsibility of the Social Worker to ensure that appropriate arrangements are made for the young person to be transported to future court hearings. The YOS should be invited to attend all care planning or review meetings held in respect of the young person whilst s/he remains remanded to local authority accommodation until the conclusion of the proceedings.

Following a Remand to local authority accommodation, a planning meeting should be arranged within 3 working days of the placement. The aim of the meeting is to:

  1. Agree lines of communication between the professionals involved and the young person’s family;
  2. Agree day to day arrangements;
  3. Identify who will be responsible for what tasks;
  4. Agree what support is to be offered to the placement;
  5. Clarify the action to be taken in the event of breach of conditions attached to the Remand and by whom;
  6. Give consideration to the prospects of an application for Bail at any stage of the proceedings.

See also Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.

5. Remands into Youth Detention Accommodation (LASPO 2012 s98-102)

5.1 Young people aged under 18 remanded into Youth Detention Accommodation (YDA)during criminal proceedings automatically become Looked After and will be allocated a social worker.
5.2 The YOS court/duty officer should be clear from their own assessment of the young person and their discussions with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and defence solicitor, whether or not the court is likely to consider such a remand.
5.3 In those cases where the criteria for a remand into YDA are met, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) Placement Service has the responsibility for identifying a suitable placement and arranging transport.
5.4 The YOS court/duty officer will explore all options in parallel to identify viable alternatives, including a remand to local authority accommodation Thus open and secure unit vacancies may be explored at the same time. Responsibility for identifying an open unit in these circumstances will be with the placement team as described above (see Section 4, Children Remanded in Local Authority Accommodation (LASPO 2012 s92)).
5.5 The YOS will be invited to attend all planning or review meetings held in respect of the young person whilst s/he remains remanded in YDA until the conclusion of the proceedings.
5.6 The YOS is required to hold Remand Management meetings in respect of all young people subject to remand into YDA. Wherever possible these should be held in conjunction with the necessary Looked After Reviews, the co-ordination of which will require close liaison between the allocated social worker and YOS Officer.

See also Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.

6. Custodial Sentences

6.1 The most common form of custodial sentence made by the courts in respect of young people in criminal proceedings is a Detention and Training Order (DTO) which can vary in length from four months to two years. In more serious cases young people can be sentenced to longer periods in custody. All custodial sentences involve a period spent in a secure establishment and a period under supervision in the community.
6.2 The YOS has specific duties in respect of young people serving custodial sentences, both during the custodial and community supervision elements. Whilst in custody YOS will attend Sentence Planning Meetings and Reviews, as well as visit the young person at regular intervals. After release YOS staff will supervise young people in accordance with National Standards for Youth Justice Services.
6.3 Where a case is open to CSC and the young person is made subject to a DTO there is still a role for the allocated social worker in terms of sentence planning and preparation for the young person’s subsequent release.
6.4 Any care plan devised prior to the young person being sentenced to custody should be reviewed in light of the change in circumstances and with reference to the work required of the YOS as per National Standards. Needs identified prior to the sentence may be amplified or aggravated as a result of being in custody, for example the loss of a residential or foster placement, the loss of a school placement, the interruption of family work or leaving care preparations or counselling programmes.
6.5 Where, immediately prior to the making of a DTO or other custodial sentence, a young person is the subject of a Care Order (CA 1989, s31), then s/he will remain the subject of that order during the sentence. If, on release, he or she is under the age of 18, then services should be provided as for any other looked after young person subject to a Care Order. If, on release, s/he will be over 18, he or she may also come within the definition of Former Relevant Young People and provided with services.
6.6 The Leaving Care Act 2000 extended the obligations of the Local Authority to provide services to young people leaving care. To qualify for services under this Act, a young person, aged 16 or 17, must have been looked after for a period of at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 years. This may include periods during which a young person has been remanded to local authority accommodation. See Leaving Care Procedure.

7. Referrals from the YOS to the Child Care Services

7.1 Child protection issues, including those where young people have committed acts of violence or sexual abuse against other children/young people, will be referred in keeping with the London Child protection procedures – which are included in full in Part 3 of this manual.
7.2 All YOS staff will be familiar with the Threshold Document: Continuum of Help and Support Procedure and use the document, in conjunction with their own assessment when considering whether a young person should be referred to CSC as a possible child in need.
7.3 Given the resources that the YOS has available to it, it is probable that the YOS will only refer those cases that fit into the high priority category and where there is a high risk of family breakdown. When referring cases to CSC the YOS will complete the Interagency referral form. Where CSC decide to undertake a further assessment the allocated worker will request a copy of the YOS assessment.

8. Referrals from the Social Services Children and Families Team to the YOS

8.1 In practice most referrals to the YOS will be from the police and the courts. 
8.2 The YOS duty officer is available for advice and guidance on matters relating to young people at risk of offending or those already involved in the criminal justice system.
8.3 The YOS has a range of tools and resources for any worker to use in exploring a wide range of issues with young people that it can make available to social workers.