Youth offending

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 requires all councils to establish a multi-agency youth offending service in partnership with the police, London Probation Trust and health service.  

The principal aim of the Youth Offending Service (YOS) is to prevent and reduce the involvement of young people in criminal and anti-social behaviour.  The YOS also has a duty to protect the public and to safeguard the young people themselves from harm.

The YOS will advise the courts as to appropriate sentences that may be made when young people commit offences.  It will also provide assistance to young people attending police stations for interview with respect of an offence.

Young people in court

An order is made by the courts when someone is found guilty of an offence. It details what punishment people must receive for their offences. These can either be a community sentence, or a non-custodial sentence which means that people serve their punishment in the community.

When young people first get into trouble, commit offences or behave anti-socially, they can sometimes be dealt with outside of the court system.

Minor offences

If they have committed a minor offence, they can be offered a triage service to divert them from the criminal justice system and further criminal behaviour or they may receive a caution or a conditional caution which will require the young person to undertake certain tasks under supervision.

Serious offences

If the young person commits a more serious offence or persists in offending, the police may decide to charge them and bring them to court.  At this point the court has a range of sanctions available proportionate to the seriousness of the offence.  The YOS will advise sentencers as to the most appropriate sentence following an assessment of the young person’s likelihood of re-offending and any risk they may pose to the public.

Parenting orders

To encourage young people from offending it is important that parents work in partnership with the YOS.  The YOS provides voluntary programmes to assist parents in managing the behaviour of their teenage children however, sometimes this work can only be undertaken if the parent is compelled to participate.  

A parenting order is an order under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. The parenting order was designed primarily to help and support parents when their children get into trouble.

Who can make a court order

A court may make an order on a parent or guardian of:

  • a juvenile (10 to 16 year old) who is convicted of an offence
  • a child of 10 and over who is made subject of an anti-social behaviour order or a sex offender order
  • a child under 10 who is made subject to a child safety order

The court will also be able to impose this order when someone has been convicted of failing to ensure their child attends school regularly.

Any parent or carer that a young person lives with, this may include a step-parent, can be given an order. A parent, who is not living with the young person, but has regular contact, may be issued with an order separately.

If you are given a parenting order

You may be required to attend counselling or guidance sessions were you will receive help on how to deal with the young person, e.g.

  • parenting skills
  • managing the young person's behaviour
  • how to respond more effectively to challenging adolescent demands
  • ensuring your child is home during set hours
  • and ensuring they attend school regularly

The order will be for no longer than three months. The court may impose a second element, which would require you to exercise control over your child's behaviour. This may last twelve months.

Issuing a parenting order

The court will ask for the family to have an assessment. This requires the court to collect information on your family circumstances and what affect a parenting order may have.

An assessment will involve you talking to a youth offending team officer who will talk to you regarding problems and issues that may have contributed to the court appearance. They will consider whether they feel a parenting order would be suitable, or whether voluntary help would be acceptable. S/he will recommend the support that would be most helpful for you and your family.

If your unable to attend

You must telephone the named responsible officer and explain the reason you are unable to attend. You may be asked to produce a sick note if you are ill.

A parenting order can be made in the absence of the parent and guardian in court

A parent should attend court to support their child. It may give you the opportunity to express your views if asked by the court. Your solicitor will give you advice about being placed on a parenting order and your rights to appeal against it.

If you disregard the conditions of the order

If you have no genuine reason to do so you will be in breach of the order. You will be given a written warning. If you still fail to attend a review meeting will be held. Further failure to comply will result in you being taken back to court.

If convicted you could be liable for a fine up to £1000.