Youth Offending Team Officer

The Job and What's Involved

As a youth offending team officer, you would aim to prevent young people aged 10-18 from offending and re-offending. You would work for a local authority's Youth Offending Team or Service (YOT or YOS for short), which brings together various services to support young offenders, protect the public from high-risk offenders, and tackle problems that can lead to youth crime.

You would work with young offenders (both one-to-one and in groups) at various stages in the youth justice system. You would also work with their families and victims. Your duties could include some or all of the following:

  • Completing risk assessments and planning how to manage future risk.
  • Preparing pre-sentence reports for the courts, based on risk assessments.
  • Coming up with action plans ('interventions') to support young offenders and prevent them from re-offending.
  • Making referrals to agencies such as housing or drug and alcohol misuse services to support their welfare needs.
  • Agreeing acceptable ways of resolving some offences to benefit the victim or the community (such as mediation or reparation projects).
  • Supervising young offenders on court orders, community sentences, and after their release from secure institutions.
  • Helping young offenders back into education or to find work or training, and encouraging them to take part in constructive activities.
  • Working with young offenders to explore the effect of inappropriate behaviour and attitudes on others, with a view to them taking responsibility for their actions.
  • Visiting young people in secure institutions, and making risk assessments and resettlement plans for after their release.
  • Working closely with staff from partner organisations such as the police, social services, probation, health services and education.
  • Managing a case load, recording case notes and writing reports.

As an experienced and qualified YOT officer, most of your work is likely to be with high-risk and vulnerable young people.

You might also move into specialised work such as running prevention schemes to target young people who are most at risk of offending or anti-social behaviour.

In a full-time job you would work 37 hours a week, which may include some evening or weekend work.

You would have an office base but would also work in other settings in your local area, including police stations, courts, prisons and detention centres, youth clubs and clients' homes.

Full-time salaries are between £20,000 and £29,000 a year.

YOT officers on temporary contracts usually earn between £15 and £22 an hour.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Vacancies are advertised in the local and national press, on local authority websites and jobs bulletins, and by specialist employment agencies.

You could join a youth offending team with qualifications and experience in a relevant background like social work, youth work or probation. You should have experience of working (paid or unpaid) with young people, and knowledge of the justice system would be an advantage.

Education and Training

Many youth offending teams will ask for qualifications in social work or probation, although in some YOTs you may be able start as a YOT support worker without these, as long as you have gained plenty of relevant experience through volunteering.

In many youth offending services, YOT support workers will work with low and medium risk offenders, while social work-qualified and experienced workers work with higher-risk cases.

Opportunities for voluntary work with young people in the youth justice system could include working as an appropriate adult, mentoring, helping with literacy skills or becoming a magistrate. This experience could then lead to paid work, often starting as a part-time sessional paid YOT worker.

See the Youth Justice Board website for more information about the types of opportunities that may be available. Contact your local youth offending team or see the website to find out about local volunteering opportunities.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

You may get the chance to work towards one or more industry-recognised qualifications as part of the Youth Justice National Qualifications Framework.

Qualifications include:

  • A series of short online courses at an introductory level.
  • Professional Certificate in Effective Practice (Youth Justice) – run by the Open University, aimed at both new and experienced youth justice workers.
  • Foundation Degree in Youth Justice – run by the Open University, aimed at current youth justice employees and volunteers.

See the Youth Justice Board website for more information on the Youth Justice National Qualifications Framework.

You may also get relevant training and development throughout your career, such as short courses in particular aspects of youth offending.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A youth offending team officer needs:

  • A genuine interest in helping people.
  • Patience, empathy and a non-judgmental attitude.
  • Excellent communication and 'people' skills.
  • A flexible and adaptable approach.
  • The ability to stay calm under pressure and handle challenging behaviour.
  • Good report writing skills.
  • Awareness of confidentiality.
  • The ability to work as part of a team and also use your own initiative.
  • Good organisational skills.
  • The ability to manage your time effectively and prioritise tasks.
  • An interest in social issues and the criminal justice system.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience, you could move into team leader/manager roles. Alternatively, with further training you could move into social work, education welfare, or into the Connexions Direct service.

Get Further Information

Skills for Justice, Centre Court,
Atlas Way, Sheffield S4 7QQ
Tel: 0114 261 1499

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