A youth rehabilitation order (YRO) is a community sentence used for young people who have previously offended or who have not pleaded guilty to the offence.
The YRO takes effect on the day that it is ordered and can run for up to three years, until the end of the longest requirement. Some requirements might have shorter timescales and finish before the end of the YRO. There is no minimum length, although in practice they are rarely shorter than three months.
How does it work?
Before making a YRO the court must consider a pre-sentence report (PSR) prepared by Devon Youth Justice Service to help establish an appropriate balance between the seriousness of the offence, the risk of harm the young person might present in the future and the needs of the young person. The court then sets the requirements and the overall length of the order. If more than one requirement is attached to the YRO, the court must make sure that they are compatible with each other. This approach gives the court greater flexibility to sentence in a way that protects the public and meets the needs of the young person. The young person must then meet regularly with members of the Youth Justice Service or partner organisations to complete the order of the court.
The following requirements can be attached to any youth rehabilitation order imposed in court. They have been designed to provide a variety of options for punishment, protection of the public, reducing re-offending, reparation and rehabilitation.
- Activity – to take part in a specific activity for up to a total of 90 days. This can include an activity which focuses on reparation and might include a face-to-face meeting with the person or persons affected by the offence.
- Attendance centre – to attend and take part in activities at an attendance centre for a specified number of hours.
- Curfew – to stay in a specified place between specified hours. The curfew period cannot be for less than two hours or more than 12 hours in any 24 hour period. The maximum duration is for six months, starting on the day that the order is made and the order can specify different periods of curfew on different days. The requirement is imposed in conjunction with a requirement for electronic monitoring unless there is a reason not to do this.
- Drug testing – must comply with drug testing to show whether they have used drugs or not. It can only be imposed when the court has also imposed a drug treatment requirement.
- Drug treatment – must agree to drug treatment for a period specified in the order. The aim of this is to reduce or eliminate the young person’s dependency on, or misuse of, drugs where this has been identified as a problem.
- Education – when a young person of compulsory school age must comply with approved education arrangements.
- Electronic monitoring – to comply with arrangements for the electronic monitoring of the curfew period set by the court.
- Exclusion – prohibits the young person from entering a place specified in the order for a specific period. This period must not be longer than three months.
- Intoxicating substance treatment – must agree to intoxicating substance treatment for the period specified in the order. The aim is to reduce or eliminate the young person’s dependency on, or misuse of, intoxicating substances where this has been identified as a problem. This requirement has a broader range of treatment options than the drug treatment requirement.
- Local authority residence – to live in suitable accommodation provided by or on behalf of the local authority specified in the order. The requirement must not exceed six months or include any period once the young person has reached 18.
- Mental health treatment – must agree to treatment by an appropriate registered medical practitioner with a view to improving their mental condition, where a link between their mental health and offending has been identified.
- Programme – must engage in a set of activities (a programme) at a specified place on a specified number of days.
- Prohibited activity – must not participate in activities as specified in the order for a specified period of time.
- Residence – the young person, who must be 16 or over at the time of conviction, is required to live with a specified person or at a specified place.
- Supervision – to meet with a responsible officer from the Youth Offending Service or other people as nominated by the service. This requirement remains for the duration of the YRO.
- Unpaid work – to complete a specified number of hours of unpaid work – a minimum of 40 and maximum of 240. The young person must be aged 16 or 17 at the time of their conviction.
- YRO with intensive fostering – must engage with intensive fostering as an alternative to a custodial sentence. It would be used where the young person would otherwise be given a custodial sentence and where their normal living arrangements are thought to contribute to their offending behaviour.
- YRO with intensive supervision and surveillance – to engage with an intensive programme of supervision and activities intended to protect the public and reduce the risk of further offending.
The Youth Justice Service is responsible for making sure that the court order is carried out. The young person is required to keep all appointments and to abide by behaviour rules during appointments. Failure to do this, without an acceptable reason, can lead to a return to court for ‘breach’ of the order. If the young person is taken back to court for breach, the court may decide to revoke (cancel) the order and to re-sentence the young person.
Involving the victim
Involving the victim of the offence is an important part of youth rehabilitation orders and is part of an approach known as restorative justice. The guiding principle is that the victim has the choice about whether to be involved and how much to be involved.
The young person will be allocated a key worker, but depending on their needs they may meet with different members of the team. The Youth Justice Service includes social workers, mental health workers, police officers, probation officers, reparation workers, speech and language specialists and an education welfare officer. They can also refer cases to other specialist teams. For example, if the young person’s offence was linked to drug or alcohol use, they may be asked to meet with one of the Y-SMART team who provide Devon’s drugs and alcohol service. Alternatively, if their attendance at school is an issue, then the Youth Justice Service education welfare officer may become involved.
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