Somerset Youth Offending Service (YOS) aims to reduce youth offending. Most of the work of the team is with young people aged 10 to 18 who have been arrested by the police for a crime.

They also work with families and carers, with victims of the young people concerned, and with their communities.

The team includes:

  • face to face YOS youth justice practitioners who are trained in working with children and young people
  • a psychologist
  • a speech, language and communication specialist
  • an education worker
  • a restorative worker who works with victims
  • a reparation worker who leads different activities in the community to help young people repair harm caused by doing something positive for the community
  • a probation worker
  • 1 police officer
  • 1 police intervention worker
  • a community involvement worker who supports and co-ordinates all our community volunteers

The YOS has 2 team leaders who are also trained in social work and probation work.

We are committed to working with all young people, their parents and carers and victims without discrimination through race, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

We want to help support young people living in Somerset to have the best possible chance of achieving their potential.

Volunteers

The Youth Offending Service’s has a vibrant and active team of volunteers to support the work of the YOS. This includes:

  • To act as an Appropriate Adult in support of either a juvenile or a vulnerable adult detainee and to ensure that the detained person for whom you are acting understands what is happening to them and why.
  • Panel Volunteers to work with other Panel Members and the Youth Offending Service to devise individual and imaginative programmes of work to address young people’s offending behaviour.
  • Reparation Volunteers to support young people to fully participate in their reparation work.
  • Family Group Conference Volunteers to assist in supporting family members who are vulnerable e.g. parents with learning difficulties who may struggle to express their views.
  • Victim contact to ascertain victim views and to keep them informed of the progress of their case.

For more information visit Somerset Volunteering – Volunteer opportunities in Somerset

You can find out more about the work of the Somerset Youth Offending Team on the Somerset County Council website.

Important changes – Special educational needs (SEN) and Children and Young People in Youth Custody

From 1 April 2015 the changes brought in by the new Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Code of Practice apply also to children and young people with special educational needs who are in youth custody.

The new legal changes give children and young people with SEN in youth custody new rights. They also introduce new expectations on custodial establishments, Local Authorities, health partners and Youth Offending Teams.

The Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015 sets out in chapter 10 the detail of the new requirements.

Why the changes are important to Children and Young People in Youth Custody with SEN

The support, provision, assessment and review children and young people in youth custody with SEN are crucial because:

  • over 60% of people in youth justice have difficulties with speech, language or communication
  • around 18% of young people in custody have an EHCP

Which Children and Young People in Youth Custody with SEN do the changes apply to?

The new arrangements apply to:

  • Children and young people age 18 and under
  • Children and young people who have been sentenced or remanded by the Courts to a Young Offender Institutions, A Secure Training Centre or a secure Children’s Home (in future these will become secure colleges)
  • Children voluntarily detained in a Secure Children’s Home

What do the changes mean for Children and Young People in Youth Custody with SEN?

  • For children and young people without appropriate SEN provision, where this is necessary it must be arranged through the graduated approach by the custodial setting.

This might include an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan and if necessary, a request for EHC needs assessment can be made.

  • Local authorities (LA) must not cease an EHC plan when a child or young person enters custody. They must keep it while the child or young person is in their youth accommodation and they must maintain and review it when the child or young person is released.
  • For children and young people who have statements or EHC plans, the LA must continue to arrange appropriate SEN provision.
  • Where a child or young person in youth accommodation does not have an EHC plan, the appropriate person or the person in charge of the relevant youth accommodation can request an assessment of the child or young person’s EHC needs from the local authority.

The same responsibility of maintaining and reviewing applies to any care and health provision written in the plan.

  • From April 2015 arrangements will be made for children and young people in custody who have a statement of SEN to transfer over to an EHC Plan either on release or in custody

In Somerset links have been made between the SEN team and Youth Offending Service and they are working together in cases where children and young people in custody have special educational needs.