Leeds youth offending team is double award winner

A programme developed by Leeds youth offending service to help girls at risk of offending, has won two industry awards this month.

At the Annual Youth Justice Convention held last week, the Leeds youth offending service (YOS) was announced as the winner of the Youth Justice Board (YJB) Innovation Award and also the ‘John Hawkins award for good practice in youth justice’, for a programme the team developed to help reduce offending by girls.

The award is given out by the YJB to youth offending services and secure establishments which have demonstrated particularly innovative and imaginative ways of working with young people to prevent them from offending and reoffending.

The YJB said that Leeds was chosen because “of the comprehensiveness of the approach taken to deliver excellent services to girls in the youth justice system. It is a fantastic example of targeted innovation set in the context of the international evidence base, and grounded in a thorough analysis and understanding and the specific needs of girls receiving support from the YOS”.

The winning programme set up by Leeds YOS has a ‘virtual team’ of specialist workers across the service in order to develop their work with girls, recognising that providing the same services to both boys and girls does not produce equitable outcomes. A key objective of the programme is to provide the court with a range of options equal to those that they have for boys, particularly as alternatives to custody.

The team developed a programme including a range of modules around self-esteem; healthy relationships; sexual health; managing strong emotions and cognitive skills. All YOS groups are now run on a single-gender basis and consideration is given to the working environment.

The YJB were impressed that in addition to the important structural changes such as the creation of a policy specific to girls, and the creation of a girls specialist, the Leeds YOS created some really exciting and innovative interventions for girls, creating a menu of interventions for case managers to refer to based on the individual needs they uncover. They also said another great strength in the Leeds approach is their rigorous commitment to evaluating the impact of the work.

As well as the YJB Innovation award, the team also won the first ‘John Hawkins award for good practice in youth justice’ from the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers (AYM) for the same programme.

Gareth Jones AYM Vice Chair said:

“The girls programme implemented by Leeds YOS was a worthy first winner of the John Hawkins award for good practice in youth justice by AYM members or the Yots they represent. John would have thoroughly approved.”

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member for children’s services said:

'Winning these awards is a fantastic recognition of the hard work the team has put into developing and implementing the programme, which is not only helping these young women turn their lives around it is also making our communities safer.

“To win two awards for the same programme is proof that this team is leading the way in this area of youth offending practice.”

John Hawkins was the Head of East Sussex YPT and Treasurer of the AYM for over ten years until his untimely death last year.


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Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk