The Children and Young Persons Act

The case of drugs greatly influences the disposal Drug Treatment and Testing order, which is aimed at those who commit crimes to fund their drug habit. This order obliges the offender to undergo drug treatment. Youth justice in the present century has evolved into a particularly complex state of affairs. It is aimed at punishing the offender whilst keeping their welfare paramount. The Children and Young Persons Act 1933 established that all courts should have great regard to the child's welfare. Many offenders are looked upon as problems to be solved, rather than people with problems to solve.

Having professionals such as social workers and YOT's gives the individual the opportunity to focus on their situations and adapt to a better way of living rather than marginalizing them from the rest of society. With all disposals an ASSET (young offender assessment profile) is undertaken. This aims to look at the young persons offending and identify a multitude of factors for example, education and mental health. The outcome from this will decide what work is necessary and appropriate in addressing the individuals offending behaviour.

Family circumstances and diversity should also be taken into account to ensure anti-oppressive practice and anti-discriminatory practice. An ASSET mental health-screening tool is also available. This is to ensure that youth with mental health problems are supported appropriately and are accessing the mental health services available to them. Local YOT's have also set up mental health projects. Where there is evidence of mental health problems, an urgent assessment is undertaken by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

Specialist intervention includes, counselling and therapy to reduce the risk of re-offending. With all disposals interpreting services are available for asylum seekers and others where there is a language barrier. Local YOT's regularly fund interpreting services and young people who require them are encouraged to use them. In 2002 Oxford YOT established a specialist board working exclusively with asylum seekers and refugees. However increased attention is needed on the growing number of youth with disabilities involved in the juvenile justice system (Burrell & Warboy 2000).

Leone et al (2002) cited that when agencies make a commitment to collaborate and provide comprehensive services for youth with disabilities and their families, successful outcomes are the result. Black and ethnic minority individuals continue to be disproportionately represented throughout the youth justice system. Launch of the Race Audit and Action Planning will enable local YOT'S to tackle discrimination where identified and promote equality of opportunity. The Youth Justice Board (YJB) also funds Mentoring Plus projects for ethnic minority, black and 'hard to reach' young people.

With all children a multi agency approach is essential to address the youths circumstances as well as effective family work. Professionals and families should have the ability to maintain good working relationships with the child's best interests at heart. However the most important aspect is working together with the young person. Helping young people who have been excluded from school can be difficult. Once a child has been excluded other schools are reluctant to take on the disruptive pupil, therefore they are left for their parents to deal with.

By not dealing with these individuals it is as if the system is letting them down. Educational requirements should always be met by YOT's and LEA's should promote the re-integration of excluded children into school. (Audit commission 1996) I feel the most appropriate way of working with John would be a non-custodial sentence. Greenwood et al (1996) cited that providing educational and other support services to youth and their families is a more effective approach than incarceration. I feel a Supervision order where a range of specified activities can be attached such as participation in the ISSP are more appropriate.

Justifications for my reasons are that various studies and research have found these disposals successful and effective in meeting young peoples needs. Supervision Orders offer a range of programmes such as cognitive skills, behaviour and skills training. This is evident in Ross et al, (1988) research on a cognitive skills training programme. He cites that when intervention is based around skills and behavioural training for around six months then a reduction in re-offending can be expected by 10 per cent. Children with learning difficulties and special needs have also benefited greatly from cognitive skills training.

Other activities through supervision orders, which can meet Johns, needs include anti-drug and substance misuse programmes such as methadone maintenance. This provides methadone to drug-dependent individuals as a substitute for heroin. This has been successful in reducing crime and drug consumption (Anglin 1990). Because John lives in an area of deprivation he will also benefit from the programmes that are attached to Supervision Orders such as rehabilitation, education and training to provide John with opportunities in society. Solution focused work, problem solving and group work.

"Group work programmes are recognised as an effective way of addressing offending behaviour because it provides a context for young people to challenge and learn from each other" (Utting & Vennard 2000) Structured supervision programmes combining training in moral reasoning, behaviour skills, problem solving, vocationally orientated psychotherapy have all been cited as successful and effective in meeting young peoples needs (McGuire 1995). Supervision Orders can also include reparation. For John it could include repairing the harm done to an individual's property or writing a letter of apology.

Restorative justice has risen to prominence in recent years as "one of the significant developments in criminal justice and criminological practice and thinking" (Crawford & Newburn 2003:19) The ISSP has also been cited effective in meeting young peoples needs. Moore (2004) In discussion with local YOT staff, examples were given on how the 'tag' had made it easier for young people to resist peer pressure and go out and commit further crimes. This may also work for John who is offending with other young people, as well as meeting his educational needs.

The ISSP has been publicised by the YJB as a positive alternative to custody. I feel prison is not as effective as community disposals in addressing the needs of young people. Racism and discrimination are also evident in the prison system. An article by Tania Kent In Nov 2000 highlights the murder of Zahid Mubarak whist in prison custody (YOI Feltham) is believed to be racially aggravated. At the same institute full time education was only available to 90 out of 800 young offenders. Prisoners spent too long in their cells and the average amount of activity time was 15 hours a week.

Health care unit officials also cited that 18 of 23 people had serious health problems and should be in hospital not prison. The number of suicides has also risen incredibly. In 1999 ninety-one inmates killed themselves, 62% of these were on remand awaiting trail. All these are prime examples of how inadequate and insufficient custody sentences are in addressing children and young peoples needs. In conclusion when working with children and young people it is not appropriate to generalise and make stereotypical assumptions about the nature of the offending and about the individual. It is unacceptable to exclude and marginalize young people.