Irish Penal Reform Trust

UK: Standards for Children in The Youth Justice System

25th February 2019

Standards for Children in the Youth Justice SystemStandards for Children in The Youth Justice System was published by the Youth Justice Board and the Ministry of Justice in February 2019. These standards define the minimum expectation for all agencies that provide legal services to ensure positive outcomes for children in the justice system. 

This document replaces the National Standards for Youth Justice Services (2013).

The standards are intended to guide services’ understanding of what is expected, but does not prescribe how services should be designed and delivered. 

The aim of the standards is to guarantee quality is continued in the youth justice system, support good practice to improve outcomes for children who commit crime, and assist the Youth Justice Board and inspectorates when they assess whether youth justice services are meeting their requirements. The devised standards operate across 5 discrete areas:

  • Out of court disposals
  • At court
  • In the community (court disposals)
  • In secure settings
  • On transition and resettlement

Each standard outlines the actions the Youth Offending Team (YOT) should carry out in order to meet minimum expectations. For example, in relation to transition and resettlement, the YOT should provide a plan for these children which should be produced quickly, and with active participation from the child and their family. In preparing that plan, all relevant agencies should work with the child, parents and carers and should be in place for each transition including children who move residence, children who move services, children who move to and from mainstream schools or to further education, children who reach the end of a youth justice order and children who reach the end of a secure order but not the end of sentence.

Each standard contains compilied links to underpinning statutory guidance on the delivery of services.

For more on the minimum actions required by YOTs stemming from these standards, read the standards document in full here

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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