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5.17 Protocol between Nottingham Youth Offending Team (YOT) and Nottingham Children's Social Care (CSC) Concerning the Allocation of Work and Partnership Arrangements in Respect of Children and Young People

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

The primary objective of the YOT is the effective assessment and management of risks young people pose both to the public and to themselves. The primary objective of CSC is the effective assessment of need to promote the safeguarding of children and young people.

This protocol recognises the complementary nature of these objectives, and the value of joint work to safeguard children and young people who commit offences, and reinforce the responsibilities of their families. It also recognises the rights of victims and the wider community whose safety and security is affected by youth offending. In some circumstances, these objectives will create tensions and this protocol provides a basis to manage these whilst maximising the benefits of joint working.


Contents

  1. Information Sharing
  2. Assessment and Referrals
  3. Preventing Youth Offending
  4. Accommodation of Young People in result of Criminal Proceedings
  5. Placements in Secure Local Authority Accommodation
  6. Court Appearances by Children in Care
  7. Young People Receiving a CSC Service who Become Subject to YOT Interventions
  8. Reciprocal Use of Skills and Specialist Knowledge
  9. Problem Solving and Conflict Resolution


1. Information Sharing

The YOT and CSC will ensure mutual access to their information systems, and each will make information available to their colleagues working with young people and their families.

In particular, the YOT will:

  • Check CSC involvement when commencing youth justice interventions and at three monthly intervals thereafter during the currency of orders;
  • Provide information regarding court appearances and outcomes for all children and young people currently receiving a service from CSC;
  • Refer all children and young people to CSC for assessment of the need for services where it appears to the YOT that there are safeguarding concerns or complex issues (Also see YOT Safeguarding Guidance - To Follow);
  • Provide management information to assist local planning arrangements and contribute to the ability of CSC to report on its performance in relation to children and young people in need and looked after;
  • Ensure that its staff access CSC information systems in all assessments;
  • Participate and actively contribute to local multi agency working arrangements with jointly managed young people.

In particular, CSC will:

  • Check YOT involvement when assessing for or providing a service to any child or young person;
  • Provide management information to assist local planning arrangements and contribute to the ability of the YOT to report on its performance in relation to children and young people in need and looked after;
  • Ensure that all information regarding the criminal behaviour of young people is shared in those cases where there is active YOT involvement.

In order to foster common ownership and mutual understanding of joint working arrangements and assessment frameworks, the YOT and CSC will contribute to the induction of staff from the other agency and to each other’s continuing training; and will ensure twice yearly meetings between YOT and CSC service managers and team managers to develop joint working arrangements and address common problem areas.


2. Assessment and Referrals

The YOT and CSC recognise the link between AssetPlus (the risk assessment tool used by the YOT) and the Common Assessment Framework and the extent to which each informs and enhances the quality of the other. These will be used as the basis for identifying the need for referral to the other agency, although it is for the receiving agency to decide whether services will be provided on the basis of such referrals.

Given the wide range of situations in which inter-agency referrals may be made, this protocol does not prescribe the circumstances in which services will be provided by either the YOT or CSC. In some cases, the nature of the required service will inevitably determine which agency provides it - for example, the YOT will not be expected to conduct child protection investigations, and CSC will not be expected to provide offending behaviour programmes. In other circumstances, the decision about which agency provides a service will be determined by:

  • The nature of the service required;
  • The expertise to provide that service in each agency.

As a general principle, the YOT will be responsible for interventions to reduce the risk of offending, re-offending, or harm to the public; and CSC for interventions necessary to promote and safeguard a young person’s safety, welfare and general development.


3. Preventing Youth Offending

The YOT will work with CSC and the police to ensure the effectiveness of the protocol regarding the prosecution of young people for offences committed within residential units, and where appropriate contribute to risk assessments to inform decision-making about the need for formal police action, to ensure that looked-after children are not criminalised for behaviour which would not lead to those living in their own home being reported to the police.


4. Accommodation of Young People in result of Criminal Proceedings

CSC has ultimate responsibility for decisions relating to the accommodation of young people who require it as a result of criminal proceedings, including remands to local authority accommodation, accommodation under Section 38 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, and youth rehabilitation orders with a residential requirement. The decision regarding placement, whether it is in residential or foster care, other accommodation not specifically designated for the purpose of accommodating looked-after young people, or with family members, will be the responsibility of the Social Care Service Manager (or the on-call manager out of normal office hours) on the basis of advice from the YOT about the risks relating to the use of other accommodation.

Where a remand to local authority accommodation is possible, the YOT will identify whether any alternative accommodation options are available and the potential for bail supervision. Where a remand to local authority accommodation is likely, the YOT will notify the allocated social worker or the CSC neighbourhood fieldwork duty officer at the earliest opportunity of the potential need for a placement. The CSC worker will, if thought appropriate, contact the Targeted Support Team, where it appears there is some potential to influence the Court, who will assess the support needs of the family and establish whether these can prevent a remand to local authority accommodation, with or without YOT resources as part of a bail supervision programme, or other intervention. CSC will liaise with the YOT court team worker regarding any alternative potential addresses so that these addresses can be checked by the YOT police officer for safeguarding or other concerns.

Any decision to place a remanded young person in their family home or other accommodation not specifically designated for the purpose of accommodating looked-after young people must be approved by a CSC Service Manager following advice from the YOT about the nature and location of the offending, the proximity of and likely effects on victims or witnesses, the ability of parents/carers to exercise effective control (with or without the support of the YOT and/or CSC), and taking particular account of the court’s reasons for refusing bail. These children remain subject to Looked After Children regulations for the period of remand.

Where a young person has been remanded to local authority accommodation, ultimate responsibility for practical arrangements for placement (escorting, completion of LAC processes and co-ordination of statutory meetings) will be CSC. The YOT will support those processes.

The YOT and CSC will work together to make the most effective use of resources in dealing with practical placement arrangements.

Where any delay is likely in decisions about placement, CSC will endeavour to identify suitable holding accommodation to reduce the risk of absconding from public waiting areas at court or the YOT and to provide an environment likely to reduce the distress the child may be experiencing. The YOT and CSC will ascertain who is best resourced at that time to escort the youngster to their accommodation. On Saturdays or other occasional court days, the Emergency Duty Team (EDT) will be responsible for making the appropriate arrangements.

The YOT will ensure that a duty officer is available for occasional courts in Nottingham, and will liaise with EDT in relation to any young people at risk of being remanded to local authority accommodation. If a remand to local authority accommodation results, the placement decision is the responsibility of the on-call Service Manager, and EDT is responsible for all practical arrangements. The YOT will ensure that EDT has access to advice in relation to young people appearing in occasional courts outside Nottingham.

Whilst the YOT will allocate all young people who are remanded to local authority accommodation, and take lead responsibility in relation to the criminal proceedings, the young person, by nature of the remand becomes a Looked After Child and CSC is responsible for ensuring that a social worker is allocated and a 72 hour review meeting is convened within 72 hours of the initial placement. The allocated YOT worker will attend the panel. The relevant CSC team manager will chair the meeting or arrange appropriate representation. and the meeting will decide what level of CSC involvement and responsibility is appropriate, based on the young person’s need for immediate or continuing services unrelated to the management of the risk of re-offending. Where appropriate, the case will be referred to the Edge of Care Panel at the earliest opportunity,

CSC and the YOT will work together to ensure that procedures for looked after children are followed, and to facilitate future planning where further CSC services are required following the end of the remand episode.

CSC will ensure that the YOT is informed of, and has access to relevant training and advice for its staff in relation to changes and developments in child - care procedures, standards, legislation, thresholds and guidance.


5. Placements in Secure Local Authority Accommodation

Courts may order the remand of males aged 12 to 14 years or females aged 12 to 16 years directly to secure local authority accommodation, and males aged 15 to 16 years who are deemed “vulnerable” in terms of s.23 (5a) CYPA 1969, where:

  • They are charged with a violent or sexual offence, or an offence imprisonable by 14 years in the case of an adult or charged with an imprisonable offence which, together with other offences amounts to a recent history of repeatedly committing imprisonable offences whilst on bail or remanded to local authority; and
  • The court is satisfied that, having considered all other options for their remand, only a secure remand will protect the public from serious harm or the commission of further imprisonable offences; and
  • In relation to vulnerable 15 to 16 year old males only, the court is informed that there is a place in secure accommodation available for them. In all other cases, the fact that a place is not available does not prevent the court from directing a remand to secure accommodation.

Court-ordered secure remands do not require a secure panel to be held, and the Youth Justice Board controls access to centrally-contracted secure beds. The YJB identifies the units to which application is to be made, although the units retain a degree of discretion about admission. Placement costs are shared between the YJB and local authorities, and the local authority element of placement costs and secure escorts will be met by CSC.

The YOT will take lead responsibility for the court processes, liaising with the YJB (who are responsible for placing a youngster within the secure estate) and completing necessary YOT paperwork. The YOT will arrange secure escorts to the placement on the day and all subsequent remand appearances. Occasional courts will be an exception to this, as other demands on the YOT duty worker and limited communications at court may require EDT to take responsibility for contacting the YJB, and making applications. The YOT’s duty worker will ensure that EDT is provided with all available information and procedural advice.

“Vulnerability” has a very specific meaning in the context of section 23(5a) CYPA 1969, in relation to 15 and 16 year old males who would otherwise be remanded to custody. Vulnerability assessments in all cases will be made by the YOT, but making full use of information known to CSC. Where CSC staff attend court, and this issue is under consideration, they should avoid making any statements regarding the vulnerability of a young person until they have obtained advice from the YOT’s court staff.

All young people who are remanded to local authority secure accommodation will be allocated to a YOT case manager, and planning meetings and reviews will be co-ordinated by the YOT. CSC will ensure the case has an allocated social worker within 72 hours of remand, who will remain involved during the remand episode. Any subsequent Pre Sentence Report written by the YOT case manager will need to be informed by the social work assessment of the youngster’s home circumstances, to ensure that on release, the child has a suitable place to live.

It is unlikely that applications for authorisation to place young people in secure accommodation under section 25 Children Act 1989 will be made in relation to young people who are allocated within the YOT but not in CSC, and the latter will take lead responsibility for all such applications and admissions processes. The YOT will provide relevant information required to support the application.


6. Court Appearances by Children in Care

Where a child in care appears in court, responsibility for ensuring attendance at court lies with CSC. First consideration should be given to ensuring that a parent or carer attends if practicable, in order to promote and reinforce Parental Responsibility.

Otherwise, a young person who is placed with foster-carers, or in residential care should be accompanied by the carer if their circumstances and commitments permit. In all other circumstances, a member of CSC who is known to them, and can provide information regarding their status and circumstances, should accompany children in care to court.

Where there are unforeseen circumstances in which the person who is intended to accompany the young person is unable to do so, and it is too late for other arrangements to be made, the person with lead responsibility should contact the YOT to explain the circumstances, and outline the arrangements for the young person getting to and from court. YOT court staff cannot undertake to accompany a young person in court. The YOT Court officer will provide assistance to the young person at court but it is the responsibility of the social care representative to ensure the young person attends and is supported in Court. Where a child in care is appearing for a trial, arrangements to accompany the young person must be made by CSC, otherwise the trial will be unable to proceed, inconveniencing witnesses and victims and delaying interventions to address the young person’s offending behaviour.


7. Young People Receiving a CSC Service who Become Subject to YOT Interventions

The YOT’s work with a young person is determined by the requirements of National Standards relevant to the particular order or intervention, and the identification of risk factors through ASSET that place a young person at risk of further offending. This may, but will not necessarily, coincide with the needs identified through CAF or Core Assessments which may also have identified the need for services that are not accessible by the YOT. Consequently, there will be a presumption that CSC services to a young person will continue despite the commencement of a YOT intervention, unless it is clear that the need for that service has ended and/or the work required by the YOT’s intervention will duplicate that of CSC. This decision should be made during a joint meeting between CSC and YOT.

Where a child in care becomes subject to a YOT intervention, the existing CSC involvement will continue, although some elements of the care or pathway plan may be met within the YOT intervention. YOT staff should be invited to and attend all planning and review meetings to ensure that duplication is avoided and the benefits of joint working maximised. Contact between the YOT worker and the social worker should occur at least on a quarterly basis and in accordance with risk and need. YOT workers should visit young people in care at their accommodation at least on a monthly basis.

Residential units are expected promote and facilitate compliance of young people on court orders.

Where a child in care is subject to a custodial sentence, the YOT will be responsible for case-management during that sentence. Where it is clear, at the point of a custodial sentence, that a young person currently remanded to care or local authority secure accommodation is unlikely to be able to return to his/her parents/carers at the point of release, CSC will assess the need to remain involved during sentence. This assessment shall take into account the potential need to be accommodated at the point of release. If there is any doubt about the likely need for subsequent placement, the views of the YOT, Social Care and Legal Services will be sought in making that judgement.

Effective planning for the release of these children requires that post-release accommodation is identified as early as possible, and CSC will ensure that all children in care being released from custody will have suitable accommodation identified no less than one month prior to release. This may require CSC placement service to negotiate with any placement provider regarding costs relating to reserving any beds. This is to ensure that the young person can be prepared for the move and so that licence conditions can be drawn up at the final Detention and Training Order Review.


8. Reciprocal Use of Skills and Specialist Knowledge

The YOT and CSC have responsibilities for work with a common service-user group, and there are common professional qualifications between a significant proportion of the YOT’s staff and CSC staff. This protocol recognises that this can create a perception of shared and interchangeable skills, responsibilities and knowledge, which has been overtaken by developments in the working environment and responsibilities of both services. Consequently, skills and knowledge bases have diverged, and YOT staff who may in the past have had the skills and knowledge to work interchangeably with CSC social workers no longer have this capacity, and vice versa.

The YOT and CSC will work to ensure that their staff recognise this, and are facilitated in making full use of the skills and knowledge of the other, in particular in accessing specialist advice and expertise.


9. Problem Solving and Conflict Resolution

The measures described in Section 1, Information Sharing (Access to Information and Staff Induction and Regular Management Meetings), and Section 8, Reciprocal Use of Skills and Specialist Knowledge (Recognition of different Skill-Bases) will in themselves help to reduce misunderstandings and misapprehensions about roles and responsibilities between the YOT and CSC.

Where difficulties or disagreements arise staff should refer to the escalation process. Difficulties should be addressed immediately between team managers. They should not be referred upwards within either YOT or CSC until it is clear that they cannot be resolved at that level, either because agreement cannot be reached, or because the issue involves changes to inter-agency agreements. Addressing issues immediately at an appropriate level, and exploring potential areas of agreement, will help to ensure that individual case issues are dealt with effectively.

End