Youth justice and youth offending

We believe the best way of tackling youth crime is through prevention. Our teams work with young people at risk of offending or who may be experiencing difficulties in their family or with education or training. We assess each young person and their family individually and provide a package of support specifically tailored to the young person's needs. Our aim is always to make an effective intervention before a crisis point is reached.

In the majority of cases, we believe that the positive influence of the young person's family or peer group, and guidance and support from respected individuals, will be enough to ensure they are able to participate and do not get involved in criminal activity. However, on those occasions when young people do get into trouble, Young Hackney workers will be there, to both challenge and assist.

If a young person is arrested and is referred to a Young Hackney unit we will work with them to address the root causes of their problems. This will reduce the chances of their re-offending.

Minor offences

Custody triage

If a young person is arrested for a minor offence, and there is a low chance of them reoffending, we will refer them to a custody triage programme.

The programme helps young people to address the causes of their behaviour, starting with recognising their offence and repairing the damage they have caused. This is called restorative justice.

We bring victims and offenders into contact with each other. Victims can ask the young person questions and tell them what the impact of their crime was. Offenders can apologise to their victims.

We will assess the person's needs by looking at their circumstances and measuring the risk they might pose to other people. The young person will be asked to think about why they offended and, working with a Young Hackney Unit, work out ways they can avoid getting into more trouble.

We do this by:

  • helping them engage, making sure they are in school, in training or in a job
  • making sure they can take part in positive activities
  • making sure they have access to the right services if they are have mental health problems, are homeless or have drug or alcohol problems
  • working with their family and friends to make sure they have positive influences

Depending on the nature of the offence and the needs of the young person involved, we will work with them for a shorter or longer period of time.

Reprimands and final warnings

Reprimands and final warnings can only be give to those aged between 10 and 17. They do not result in a criminal record.

If the young person admits their guilt, they can be offered support through their local Young Hackney unit. However, if they do not, they are liable to be sent to court and prosecuted.

Police reprimand

If the young person is given a reprimand, a police officer will talk to them about the offence and will explain what will happen to them if they break the law again. 

The police will keep a record of the young person's or child's crime and the details will be passed on to the appropriate Young Hackney team, who will decide if the young person needs further support.

The Young Hackney unit does not have any responsibility for a young person who is given a reprimand, but does write to parents to make them aware of the resources and services available.

Police final warning

Final warnings have replaced the old system of police cautions for young people.

This is a young person's last chance to prevent an appearance in the Youth Court. We will support parents and young people as much as possible to make sure this does not happen.

Final warnings aim to:

  • prevent young people re-offending by making them aware of the consequences of their crimes
  • allow the young person to think about the wishes and feelings of the victims of their crimes, which could involve doing unpaid work or writing an apology letter
  • find out the circumstances of the offence and take steps to address the reasons why the young person committed the offence to reduce the risk of similar behaviour

If a young person is given a final warning, the police will discuss their behaviour with them and record their crime. They are then automatically referred to a Young Hackney member of staff.

We will then arrange an appointment with the young person and their parents to plan what can be done to make sure they do not break the law again. Together, we will decide what kind of activities the young person needs to help them improve their behaviour. This can include activities to do with:

  • thinking about the consequences of criminal behaviour
  • how to stand apart from peers involved in crime
  • education
  • substance misuse
  • setting positive goals

What parents and guardians can do to help

  • attend all meetings along with their child or the young person
  • encourage them to fully appreciate the consequences of their offences and behaviour
  • ensure they successfully complete the scheme or activities assigned to them

It is also vital that parents and guardians reinforce the child's progress, to reduce the likelihood of offending after the intervention has finished.

We have skilled family workers who can help families if they need it. 

Pre-court orders

If children are behaving antisocially, the police and local authority can use a variety of pre-court orders including:

  • acceptable behaviour contracts
  • antisocial behaviour orders
  • local child curfews
  • child safety orders

These aim to prevent children and young people from being brought into the youth justice system at an early age, while offering them the help they need to change their behaviour and stop offending. 

Serious offences

If a young person commits a serious offence or has a history of offending, they will enter the youth justice system and can face a court order or detention. Before a young person is sentenced, we will usually prepare a pre-sentence report. This gives the court information about the young person, the nature of their offence, the likelihood of their re-offending, and whether they are a risk to themselves or others.

A court order says what punishments people must receive for their offences. The various types of court orders are detailed below.

If you are given a court order, one of our staff will arrange to meet you to explain the details of your support plan. You then might have to:

  • attend one-to-one sessions with a staff member to think about why you have offended and what you need to change to stop this happening again
  • attend group sessions to make you think about the impact of crime and how you can avoid offending in the future
  • take part in activities where you make amends for the offence
  • take responsibility for making changes in your life that will help you to avoid getting into trouble again

Referral orders

If a young person admits guilt and it is the first time they have appeared before the court they may receive a referral order. A referral order panel will agree a contract that the young person must stick to.

A Young Hackney unit will work with the young person and their family to achieve what was set out in the contract.

Referral orders are more serious than custody triage, but the support we give follows the same principles of: making amends for offences, apologising to victims and working on the root causes.

Referral order panels

A referral order panel is where the victims and offenders meet face to face with Young Hackney staff and members of the public. The members of the public who attend will live in the same area as the person who committed the crime, will be specially trained and will have read about the details of the crime and the young person's background. They are not paid.

The panel will take about the offence. Together, they will work out how the young person might be able to make up for the crime they committed. A contract is then drawn up to address the issues.

If the contract is broken, the young person could end up going to court to face more serious punishment. 

Reparation orders

A reparation order is usually given by a Youth Court. It is a short order, with a maximum of 24 hours of reparation, which focuses on making things right with the victim of the crime and your local community.

Youth rehabilitation orders

Youth rehabilitation orders are the main community sentence for young people who have offended more than once or who committed a serious offence. They can include banning a person from an area, home, or address and doing unpaid work.

When the offence is very serious and the young person is at risk of being sent into custody, the court can impose an intensive supervision and support requirement. This means sending someone to check up on them every day for 25 hours per week, including at weekends.


If the offence is deemed very serious, the court may sentence the young person to a period of detention. There are three types of custodial sentences for young people:

  • Detention and training order, which is usually completed half in custody and half in the community
  • Section 90/91 orders, which are used either where a young person has been convicted of murder or an offence where an adult would be sent to prison for 14 years or longer. Young people are released automatically at the halfway point of the sentence and may be approved for earlier release if they have made good progress in custody
  • Section 226/228 orders are made for serious offences where the young person is considered to be dangerous. A Section 226 order is made for a specific period of time. A Section 228 order is made for an indefinite period of time, where the court feels this is necessary to protect the public

Parenting orders

If the court considers that the actions of a young person's parent(s) is contributing to their offending behaviour, a parenting order can be issued to help them protect and prevent the young person from committing further offences. You can find more information on minor offences and the different sentencing options on the Government's Justice website.

Page updated: 16/03/2016 14:34:17