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Effect of Policy on Youth Offending Rates

Info: 5882 words (24 pages) Dissertation
Published: 3rd Nov 2021

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Tagged: CriminologySocial Policy


The purpose of this dissertation is to see if the government policy for youth offending has reduced the amount of youth offenders and also if government’s strategies are affective in order to tackle youth offending.

Chapter 1

Define youth offending; what are youth offending and what crimes are classified as youth offending and what the major of youth crime activity is taken place. The change of crime in youths before and now. What is youth offending and what policies are used to deal with criminal activity youth offender. What types of crime are considered as offending for youth?

What is Youth Offending?, Who Are Youth Offenders?

Youth is considered in the criminal justice system a young person or child age from 10-17 as stated by the Youth justice board .A child or young person who breaks the Law and is guilty is classified as a youth offender. Youth crime can consist of different types of criminal actively such as anti- social behaviour, theft, assault and even murder. This is similar to adult crime as breaking the Law is considered as a criminal offence no matter the age.

Youth crime can be proven to harm and be dangerous to the community. It could damage the future of the youth by having a life of crime. According to the House office Youth crime “harms communities, creates a culture of fear and damages the lives of some of our most vulnerable young people” (www.homeoffice.gov.uk) .The impact of youth crime has caused a disturbance within society which has resulted in policies changing quite often in order to overcome youth crime.

Out of the youth justice system young could be a different margin for example from seventeen to twenty-one in general terms is classified as young

In many countries crime committed by young people and children has become a major battle of politicians. Many politicians believe that youth offenders should be prepared to receive the punishment for the crime they have committed. According to (Simon,2000) “ politicians across the political spectrum have demanded that if a young offenders are prepared to ‘do the crime’ they should also be prepared to ‘do the time’ and that in some cases they should do this ‘time in the same place as adults”

(Pitts,J. (2003).) The government have become aware of youth offending and are taking it much more seriously the previously. Punishment has been considered is the main way youths should suffer the same as adults for the actions.

Young people and crime have many similarities with the adult offenders. Both adult and youth may have a balance between “punishment, rehabilitation and deterrence and that between the rights and responsibilities (including the victims) of offender”. ( Pitts,J. (2003). p71) there are different types of sentences from discharges to custody and fines depending on the offence. The England and Wales criminal justice system identifies young people aged between ten and seventeen are classified as youth and are dealt with in a different justice system which is called the youth justice system.

Youth offenders have its “own courts, custodial institutions, professional personnel and in many cases sentences” ( Kirton, D. (2005)) This has become the main part in the youth justice system as children and young people’s mentality and understanding are different to adults so therefore children and young people may not be fully aware and fully at fault for the offence. Youth justice system is a system created so treatment is the main priority of young people and children who are suffering from welfare and other problems as educational, poverty and drugs etc.

The youth justice system would consider that the evidence regarding the youth offender and decided what is the best punishment or treatment need which is going to benefit the youth. This is done mainly to prevent the youth from offending again by tackling the problems before it could mean the youth is less likely to offend again. Some organisations consider twenty one year olds or even up to twenty five or thirty as young but according to the youth justice system over seventeen years of age is considered full responsible for the offence so the criminal justice system would deal with the case of over seventeen people.

The youth justice believe that youths aged from ten to seventeen are not in the full state of mind compared to an adult for example if a ten year old was to kill someone they would not be liable for a first degree murder due to they cannot distinguish between right and wrong. some groups believe that youths who commit a offence should have the same punishments as adults and others believe that youths at ages from ten to seventeen cannot full be responsible for the action (Jamie bugler case two ten years old killed a child younger then them)

Youth policies in the justice system regarding youth offending are mainly set by the government which have installed the youth justice board during the years of 1998 and 1999. Policies were set before by the government and still are mainly but the youth justice board is there to make sure organisations who are trying to prevent youth offending are doing their jobs. Policies such as the Crime and Disorder act in 1998 which was a policy set by the government to create multi-agency panels in order to achieve effectiveness and efficiency. Standards had to be achieved as it was consider as the biggest “shake up” in the youth justice system according to “Jack straw” (Pitts,J. (2003). P88).

Policies could benefit for and against for example policies regarding social, economical, health and welfare were seen as the main policies for organisations who worked for youth offenders to apply such as the Treatment of youth offenders. Then policies regarding tougher punishments were put in to action now a more multi-agency with treatment and also punishment depending on evidence policy is present. Were it would be considered by a panel which would decided what would be the best method for the youth offender not to re-offend.

The main policies regarding youth offenders are introduced by the government s rules and regulations for youth organisations, new legislations and Laws. The youth justice system was introduced policies in force were changing quite often as punishment was the main type of sentence but due to children and adults having their differences (mental, economical, knowledge).

Duty of care for children and young people should be considered as from research according to Derek Kirton it could be said that many youth offenders suffer from poor welfare, economical issues, family, health and educational problems. Accoutring to the Home office statistics levels of youth offenders you have these problems are quite high. Punishment may not be considered the best method to help youths in welfare problems. As a result of this future policies changed in order to prevent youth offending by offering treatment instead of punishment. Policies may change depending on research and results as improvement may not be visible.

The youth justice system is a system that is created to deal with young people who have offended as it is believed that the young should be treated differently for the offence as young people are not fully aware and knowledgeable as an adult. This system was first introduced in the nineteenth century as pressure from groups by the media, religious, and welfare believed that children are less aware of the offences they commit then an adult. Before the youth justice system was developed young people and children were no different to adults as youths would also be sentenced to the adult jail.

After a short period of time when there was no differences for youths and adults, “industrial schools were introduced for seven to fourteen year olds convicted of vagrancy”( Pitts,J 2003).) as “Newborn 1995 ” stated .these industrial schools were to keep youths out of adult prisons due to the level of corruption and brutality in the adult prisons.

Youths and children would stay in the industrial school like it was a jail just for young people and children. The system for youths started to change even more as industrial schools started to expand and more children and young people were held there. As a result of this pressures from political groups due to the increasing level of crimes among youths was getting out of control and media and many off the public became aware of this. “Informal social controls and the drunkenness, vice, violence and crime to which gave rise” (Pitts,J 2003).

It became a major scare as many believed that the justice system and other groups cannot control this crisis. As this crisis was mainly for social controls the media, police and politicians main priority was to control and to remove the crisis. As the level of crime was rising the method of the industrial schools should how unstable the policies and strategies were. it shows that the strategies and the policies of punishment is clearly not working as crime is escalating . During this time punishment was tough unlike today where children and young people have they own justice system and are not as tough on punishment as it was around two centuries ago.

Then youths and children were punished similar as how adults were .The social controls were out of hand and it was decided by the government to create committees which would concentrate on the “treatment” (Pitts,J 2003)of the youth offender instead of punishment. The government created two committees which were “Gladstone committee and the Lushingto committee” (Pitts,J 2003) these committees were created to be less–tough on youths offenders as they believed that treatment instead of punishment would reduce crime.

This may perhaps be that what the government wants to do deal with the problem before it occurs for example a child or young person may offend due to problems at home or even educational problems as a result the committees would try to help children or young people over come this problem as if not treated then a youth may be in a condition where they are not fully aware of offending (need example to back me up) custody was also introduced by the government as the offender could be confined. Treatment was also only offered if there was enough evidence to support the fact that the child was affected by any of the following sciences consisting of paediatrics, child psychology, criminology and penology. This was a newer form of youth justice introduced by the youth justice system, but responsibility was held by the juvenile courts according to (Pitts,J 2003).

Chapter 2

Historical context of youth offending, what were the previous strategies and how were they implemented? What are the current strategies (ones that are used now) and what strategies are being considered for the future. What are the objectives of the strategies?

The Youth Justice System. What it is, how it is used, the benefits and the weakness of the system.

What are the objectives of the governments youth justice strategies. What objectives have been achieved and what are the aims of the government to achieve the target. Have the government met the objectives if so how

The aim of the youth justice system is to reduce this major problem of youth crime by building “safer communities and to tackle the problem of social exclusion” (Home Office, 2008). Social exclusion has led individuals and groups to suffer as it has partitioned them to participate with society activities due to their socioeconomic factors.

Chapter 3

What and How effective are the current strategies in place to deal with youth offenders.figures that show Yots etc are working , Talk about organisations such Yots, parenting schemes and other methods used by the government .. The positives and negatives, such as cost etc. what they are doing to try and achieve their aim. Talk about some youth programmes set up in order to reduce crime. Yots mainly but look at other services .

In order to tackle youth crime the government introduced the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 where Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) where introduced. These teams are multi-agency bodies “with the primary aim of preventing offending by children and young people”. Their aim is also to prevent young people from re-offending in which support is given to them by the YOTs (Bateman et al, 2005).

One of the areas covered by youth offending teams is to tackle anti-social behaviour which includes “harassment of residents or passers-by verbal abuse, criminal damage, vandalism, noise nuisance, graffiti, engaging in threatening behaviour in, large groups, smoking or drinking alcohol under age, substance misuse, joy-riding, begging, prostitution, kerb-crawling, throwing missiles, assault” and “vehicle-related nuisance” (YJB, 2005 pg 5).

The old youth justice, proved by the Audit Commission (1996) caused high levels of crime such as “vandalism”, “thefts and burglaries”. This system was confirmed to be “inefficient and expensive” as it resulted to a little being done to tackle youth crime and showed high levels of re-offending. The Audit Commission in 1996 established a report ‘Misspent Youth’ where many recommendations were highlighted for the new youth justice (Goldson, 2000). The key recommendation in the report was to carry out “intervening” with youth in the early stages of their career so that their offending behaviour can be targeted. The White Paper ‘No More Excuses’ also stated that YOTs will need to,

“Deliver community intervention programmes to make youngsters face up to the consequences of their crimes and learn to change the habits and attitudes which lead them into offending and anti-social behaviour. The programmes might adopt techniques such as: group work; family group conferencing and mentoring” (Home Office, 1997)

Chapter 4

Is the emphasis tough on crime or tough on comers of crime? Look at the punishment and sentencing, public perception look at differences like police want tougher laws on youths but social workers think education and rehabilitation programmes are better .look at the Hansard arguments and news articles to see.

How effective are the current strategies in place. Are they reducing the level of crime among youths? Are there different punishments for youths? Level of youths reoffending. Look in to Suggestions instead of punishments

Chapter 5

Which interest groups are involved in creating youth offending policies, look at statistics from 2002/03and 2006/07 and compare the data see if the rates are falling etc and which crimes where low and high. Argue for and against punishment and prevention and punishment and rehabilitation. See in the results if punishment becoming harsher is better than the welfare state before and what is happing now such as Multi –Agencies.

Also look at which types of youth offend and reoffend the reasons behind this. The statistics from 2002/03 compared with 2006/07.

What is found and where should the YJS change and forces on etc.

The main aim of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) is to prevent crime, “the police alone have been relatively ineffective agents of crime prevention” due to crime being a “multi-faceted in both its causes and effects” (Bateman, 2007). Multi-agency is a process that the Audit Commission believed would play a vital role to divert young people from the courts and prevent them from re-offending in which programmes set up by the Youth Offending Teams which will help them to change and also to face up to the harm caused due to their behaviour (Goldson, 2000).

Local authorities (LA) gained a huge statutory responsibility in which they had to implement a multi-agency response to youth crime; previously it had been up to the LA to determine how they did so. The Crime and Disorder Act (CDA) “required all local authorities with social services and education responsibilities to replace social services youth justice team” (Burnett, 2005 pg 106) with Youth Offending teams. Each team consisted of “representatives from the local probation and police services, health, education and social services” (Burnett, 2005 pg 106). 14 pilot Youth Inclusion and Support Panels (YISPs) were set up in April 2003 by the Youth Justice Board. This was to target those who were likely to be at the risk of offending, the age range targeted was 8-13 year olds (Youth Justice Board, 2003).

The Youth Justice Board (YJB) was first established in 1998 by the Labour Government in which their focus was on the Youth Justice System. YOTs are monitored by the YJB where their performance is measured and aims and objectives are given to them resulting to broad range of expectations that YOTs are supposed to fulfil hence a need for a broad range of expertise within the teams. It is essential for YOTs to develop “efficient administration of justice” so that when a young person breaks the law; their case is handled and dealt effectively and efficiently.

It is vital for the offender to take responsibility for their offence so therefore the YOTs aim is to confront the individual in an appropriate manner so that effective communication is implemented. This will enable them to intervene with one another and discuss factors which causes the individual at a risk of offending. Punishment must be given to the offender which is proportionate to the seriousness of their crime and encouraging reparation to the victims by the offender. Parent responsibilities are also taken account of by the YOT’s and are reinforced.

YOTs work with a range of services and interventions such as, “housing authorities, social services, housing providers and voluntary groups” (http://www.yjb.gov.uk ). The YJB sets out corporate targets for YOTs annually. The corporate objectives for 2006/07 to 2008/09 are divided into 3 sections: –

Reduce offending and the use of custody

Support the youth justice system to reduce the number of first-time entrants to the youth justice system by 5% by March 2008 compared to the March 2005 baseline.

Support the youth justice system to protect victims and communities by reducing re-offending by young offenders by 5% by March 2008 compared with the 2002/03 baseline, working towards a 10% reduction by the end of the decade.

Support the youth justice system to, between 31 March 2005 and 31 March 2008, reduce the size of the under-18 custodial population by 10% through the implementation of the minimising the use of custody work programme.

Improve outcomes for children and young people

Support the youth justice system to improve the assessment of risk and need for young people who have offended, and improve their access to specialist and mainstream services that will address the factors identified.

To ensure that YOTs have action plans in place to achieve equal treatment at local level for comparable offences by different ethnic groups and to deliver targeted prevention activity that substantially reduces local differences by ethnicity in recorded conviction rates, by March 2008.

Safe and appropriate use of custody

To ensure that all girls under 18 years of age who are remanded or sentenced to custody are accommodated in secure establishments that are separate from adults by October 2006, and replace 250 places for boys in shared adult sites with separate facilities by March 2008.

(source: – YJB, 2005 pg 6)

These aims will help the members in the youth offending team to stay focus on the targets and will direct them to meet them, they are also able to carry out an effective service by “monitoring the treatment of young offenders and reducing inequalities”, “improving access to mainstream services” which will help to “increase confidence in the youth justice system” (YJB, 2005 pg 6).

There are key aims that Rose Burnett has identified that underpin Youth Offending Teams that focus on preventing offending and effective practice is made easier by a multi-agency approach, that can respond to young people in an holistic fashion. “Youth justice workers should join forces with other professionals” this explored the argument regarding young people being related to problems such as “truancy, drug abuse and family breakdown” each being handled by “separate agencies” (Burnett, 2005 pg107). Due to YOTs this would prevent a “duplication of effort, inconsistencies and differences in emphasis” if the team worked effectively together tackling these problems (Burnett, 2005 pg107).

“All parties should share the aim of preventing offending” as over time the approaches to the youth justice have altered which has caused a lot of confusion regarding the purpose and function of the youth justice system. The government established the paper “No More Excuses” in which they have stated their “intention to break with the previous culture of youth justice” where young people’s offending was exempt due to a concentration being on their “needs rather than their deeds” (Burnett, 2005 pg 107). The paper clearly identified the aims of “reducing crime by young people” which were given to the members of the Youth Offending Team (Burnett, 2005 pg 107).

YOT’s work in partnership who works in conjunction with all other departments in order to achieve the aims set out. The youth offending teams work in a range of services such as, courts and the prison services, they are also involved in complementary inter-agency initiatives, such as child protection committees and community safety partnerships. The goal is to provide a “joined up”, corporate approach to preventing youth offending. Both the Government and the youth justice board emphasised that YOT’s were not intended to belong to any of the individual agencies. This is a partnership approach which is between all the parties (Burnett, 2005).

There are many advantages of multi-agency working within a Youth Offending Team alongside disadvantages which cause areas of concern and which will have to be taken account of.

To begin with the advantages of multi- agency working, by working within a Youth Offending Team will result to knowledge and skills being shared. Each member of the team will provide one another with the required information on an “informal, ad hoc basis” therefore there will be no need for them to “write off for information or wait for a return phone call” (Burnett, 2005 pg 109). This saves time and communication will be more effective and efficient. By working in the same office was believed to be a great advantage due to a quick access to information and advice (Burnett, 2004).

A holistic approach is achieved due to all the representatives of “all the relevant disciplines” being under “one room” (Bateman et al, 2005 pg 109). If however, cases do arise which “lay outside the expertise of the responsible officer” then there is usually someone with the required “experience, “knowledge” and skills in the particular area to handle the problem and also recommend suggestions (Burnett, 2005 pg 109). This therefore portrays that multi-agency teams appear to be very beneficial as they bring together “seamless youth justice service closer” (Burnett, 2005 pg 109).

The “availability of representatives from different services facilitate the referral of young people to those services” (Burnett, 2005 pg 109. This reduces lengthy waiting lists and also “complicated referral procedures” that are likely to occur. Opportunities of “having the right person in the right place at the right time” (Burnett, 2005 pg 109) are increased which is hassle free and more convenient for individuals.

For instance young people who offend and get into trouble, frequently may have mental health problems for this reason having a health worker in the Youth Offending Team, who is an employee of Children and Adolescent mental health services would improve the access of YOT kids to such mainstream services. The same theory can be applied with education and children out of school. This illustrates that multi-agency teams are well placed to reintegrate socially excluded young people into mainstream provision.

Focusing on the disadvantages of multi-agency working shows that, a YOT consists of people from different occupational backgrounds; therefore, this may cause cultural differences especially in the process of decision making and may result to conflicts and misunderstandings between the staff. This will have a negative impact upon the service of the YOT and cause implications for effective practice. Each member of the Youth Offending Team is recognised as a team and not an individual therefore when problems do arise there will be a high risk on the group as a whole for example on effective communication amongst the individuals.

Looking at recent statistics the “Let’s Talk about It” report states “for youth Offending Teams to work effectively, there needs to be effective joint working across specialities”, 15% of the YOTs consisted of problems due to joint working between the specialist health and substance misuse workers and case managers. The reason for these problems was due to “the lack of adequate procedures for the sharing of information that affected many Youth Offending Teams” (Healthcare Commission, 2006).

The multi-agency members may be part of one team but may receive different conditions to their service. For instance the “operational managers might receive lower salaries than some of the practitioners under their supervision” (Burnett, 2005 pg 109), this shows that conflicts may arise between the staff regarding different rewards being attained. This is also explored by Sampson et al (1988) where it can be seen that the police are often more dominating which results to them ignoring the multi agency team which may cause conflicts among the members of the team and shows how tensions between partners with different priorities can arise.

“The police are often enthusiastic proponents of the multi-agency approach but they tend to prefer to set the agendas and to dominate forum meetings and then to ignore the multi-agency framework when it suits their own needs” (Sampson et al, 1998).

There has been a debate whether the team members in a Youth Offending Team should be generalist or specialists. Research carried out on behalf of the YJB found out that, in practice “many specialist health, education and substance misuse staff are under pressure to undertake generic youth justice duties”. This shows an ongoing “difficulty of obtaining specialist services from outside of the YOT and contributes to a dilution of specialist provision within it” (Pitcher et al, 2004).

A Youth Offending Team consists of members from different occupations for example a “police officer” or an “education worker” (Burnett, 2005 pg 109), by working in a YOT the members may lose their real identity and profession and for this reason they may not be able to bring their “distinctive professional contribution” into the YOT. There is a problem about generic versus specialist work, this looks at whether members in the YOT do a bit of everything or do work relating to their specialism therefore causes identity confusion.

The work of multi-agency partnerships sounds good but the main question is does it work once it’s put in practice? Data from the ‘Agency Public Protection Arrangements Annual Report 2005/06’ (pg 21) shows five years on from the implementation of the Criminal Justice and Courts’ Services Act 2000 which established the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements, also known as MAPPA.

Within the five years (2001-2006) multi-agency partnerships have gained an achievement on employing a safer society for all however there is still a lot for them to do and to ensure that “arrangements are fit for their purpose and are applied across England and Wales”. The main aim of the MAPPA is to make the “communities safer and reducing re-offending” (National Offender Management Service, 2005/6 pg 21).

Multi-agency is something which was created by the government in order for public services could work together to reduce costs, crime and create a more organised justice system. multi agency is the way forward according to the government who believe authorities such as police, social workers , welfare and Yots will work together this is to have a better understanding of the situation and there for make a more accurate decision. Punishment, prevention and rehabilitation issues would descused regarding the youth offender. It would depend on the crime, social wellbeing, education, poverty etc.

Although research shows that multi agency partnership works but there are also many areas and cases created that should be looked into for improvement. This can be seen through the case of Victoria Climbie which took place in February, 2000. Victoria aged eight was living with her aunt Marie-Therese and her aunt’s boy friend Carl Manning in London. Victoria’s parents had sent her with her aunt due them believing she would gain a better future but instead she was suffering abuse by Carl Manning that led to her death.

Inquiries after her death took place by Lord Laming which showed that multi-agency partnerships are partly responsible for the death due to the doctors, police and social workers being aware of the situation which could have been tackled and could have saved a life but instead there was a lack of communication amongst the multi-agency’s which caused them to be under the assumption that another agency had taken control of the case. For this reason Victoria was unable to gain the support and treatment that she required.

This case allowed the work of multi-agency partnerships to be looked into to point out the areas of concern that had to be developed upon. One of the major concerns was the lack of staff. New approaches were introduced regarding children which is evident in the Green paper in 2003 where there government established ‘Every child matters’ that enabled children to retrieve a better and healthier life, it also addressed many changes to the work of multi-agency partnerships work such as data being accessed by all members in the agencies and recorded accurately, finance was also given (£100,000) in order for them to develop upon sharing information between each profession.

Children were also give more rights in which they were able to contact more than one service at anytime and there was also a need for assessments to be carried out which would require multi-agency teams to share data. These points will enable each member of the team to work more effectively alongside one another (www.community-care.co.uk).

Another problem that has encountered can be seen through a recent report called “Let’s talk about it” by the Healthcare commission (2006) which shows that there is a problem with health and education not meeting standards. The report shows that “children and young people who offend have more health needs than the non-offending population of children…The provision of healthcare for them has improved, but it remains inadequate”.

Therefore the healthcare organisations are required to contribute to youth justice in their area in order to reduce the factors that play a part in offending. The report portrays findings from 50 Youth Offending Teams in England and Wales carried out from September 2003 to April 2006. The findings illustrate that services should be made more accessible for children aged 16 and 17 as this is the age where individuals are likely to carry out serious crimes.

Healthcare workers within the multi-agency partnerships provided services for the offender based on their “experience” and “specialities” rather than the needs of the individual which can have a positive and a negative response. Data shows that from “2004 onwards, CDRPs required to undertake an annual appraisal of their health. To be changed to 6 months following a review”, however out of the “20 projects studied over 18 months: 4 had completed, 6 still aiming to implement plans, 6 had abandoned some of their plans and 4 had made very little progress” (Hedderman et al, 2001 cited by Bateman, 2007) This engaged problems within the health and voluntary sector.


Audit Commission (1996) Misspent Youths: Young People and Crime, London: Audit Commission

Burnett R (2005) ‘Youth Offending Teams’ in Bateman, T and Pitts, J (Eds) The RHP companion to youth justice, Russell House

Community care [Online] Available at: - www.community-care.co.uk (Accessed 31st March 2008).

Goldson, B, (2000), “The New Youth Justice”, Lyme Regis: Russell House Publishing

Healthcare Commision, (2006), “Let’s Talk about It”, [Online], Available at: http://www.healthcarecommission.org.uk/_db/_documents/YOTs_report.pdf, (Accessed: 1st April 2008)

Home Office (2008) "Youth Crime", [Online] Available at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crime-victims/reducing-crime/youth-crime/ Accessed on 2nd April 2008

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Pitcher, J., Bateman, T., Johnston, V & Cadman, S, (2004), “The Provision of Health, Education and Substance Misuse Workers in Youth Offending Teams and The Needs of Young People Supervised by Youth Offending Teams”, London: Youth Justice Board

Pitts,J. (2003). Youth Justice in England and Wales. In: Matthews, R and Young, J The New politics of Crime and Punishment. Devon: Willan Publishing. 71-97.

Sampson, A., Stubbs, P., Smith, D., Pearson, G and Blagg, H (1988) “Crime, Localities and the Multi-Agency Approach”, The British Journal of Criminology 28(4) 478-493

YJB, (2005) “Guidance: A guide to the role of Youth Offending Teams in dealing with anti-social behaviour”, London [Online] Available at: /Resources /Downloads/ ASBGuidance.pdf (Accessed 1st April 2008)

Youth Justice Board, (2003), “Speaking out: the Views of Young People, Parents and Victims about the Youth Justice System and Interventions to Reduce Offending”, London: Youth Justice Board

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