LEGAL EAGLE: Team works with youths who get into trouble with the law

My 15-year-old nephew has told me he was recently arrested and interviewed at the police station.

"If a young person is aged 10-17 and is interviewed at the police station for a low-level offence, then they might be referred to the Youth Offending Team, for triage. This is usually only if they admit to the offence during their interview."
"If a young person is aged 10-17 and is interviewed at the police station for a low-level offence, then they might be referred to the Youth Offending Team, for triage. This is usually only if they admit to the offence during their interview."

He told me he’s been referred to the Youth Offending Team for Youth Triage. I’ve never heard of this before, what does it mean for him?

If a young person is aged 10-17 and is interviewed at the police station for a low-level offence, then they might be referred to the Youth Offending Team, for triage. This is usually only if they admit to the offence during their interview.

The team is there to work with young people that get into trouble with the law by encouraging them to take part in positive activities and engage with mainstream services. This avoids the young person being charged with an offence or going to court.

If your nephew was referred to the team, then they, and their parent or guardian, should have signed an agreement at the police station, agreeing to attend appointments.

At his first appointment, your nephew will have an assessment, and then an intervention plan drawn up.

This is likely to involve some sort of Restorative Justice, such as writing a letter of apology to the victim of the offence.

In Triage, if he complies with the intervention plan, then the offence won’t be recorded against him and he won’t have a criminal record. Other youth diversions such as a Youth Caution would however be recorded.

It is really important that your nephew engages with the team and their plan, because if he doesn’t, then he can be taken back to the police station where he might be charged with the offence and taken to court.

A referral to the team is normally only available if it’s the first time someone has been arrested and admitted to an offence.

Your nephew is entitled to free legal advice; a solicitor can advise you on your rights and find out from the police if you are eligible for a referral to the team before you are interviewed.

If you or a young person you are responsible for receive a letter inviting you to interview or are arrested, you should contact a free legal aid solicitor to represent you. If you need representation, contact Ben Hoare Bell LLP on 0191 565 3112 or go to www.benhoarebell.co.uk.