What is a Youth Rehabilitation Order and when will they come into play?

What is a Youth Rehabilitation Order?

A Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO) can be imposed by a court on a young person under the age of 18 years old when they are being sentenced for committing a criminal offence. A YRO will last for a maximum period of three years.

YRO requirements

YROs are non-custodial community sentences and each sentence includes different requirements which must be adhered to by the young offender.

These may include the requirement for the young person to meet with a worker from the Youth Offending Team (YOT) or be required to comply with other activities, eg, unpaid work, a curfew or specific conditions on where they can live. The requirements which can be imposed on a youth offender under a YRO are:

  • Attendance centre: requires a young person to attend an attendance centre for a specified number of hours and do what they are told to do there by the officer in charge of the centre.
  • Activity: requires the young person to participate in a specified activity for up to a total of 90 days.
  • Exclusion: this prohibits the young person from entering places specified in the order.
  • Drug testing: requires the young person to provide samples at the times specified to make sure they don’t have drugs in their system.
  • Drug treatment: requires a young person to submit to treatment by a treatment provider to try to reduce or eliminate their dependency on and/or their propensity to misuse drugs.
  • Education: requires the young person to comply with ‘approved education arrangements’, ie, a young person’s education made by their parent or guardian and approved by the local authority specified in the order.
  • Curfew: requires the young person to remain indoors at a specified place for specified periods for up to a maximum period of one year. The curfew will include an electronic monitoring requirement unless the court considers it is inappropriate to do so.
  • Local authority residence: this requires a young person to live in accommodation provided by, or on behalf of a local authority specified in the order.
  • Mental health treatment: requires a young person to submit to treatment for a specified period under the direction of a registered medical practitioner with a view to improving their mental condition.
  • Programme: requires a young person to take part in a set of activities as specified in the order. This may include a requirement to live at a specified place if necessary.
  • Prohibited activity: the young person must refrain from participating in activities specified in the order on a day (or days) specified or during the period specified.
  • Residence: requires the young person to reside with either an individual (who must consent) or at a place specified in the order.
  • Supervision: requires the young person to attend appointments as specified by the YOT worker at such times and places as specified by the YOT worker.
  • Unpaid work: requires 16 and 17 year olds only (at the time of conviction) to perform unpaid work in the community.
  • Intensive fostering requirement: this will only be imposed if the offence was imprisonable and the court feels the offence is ‘so serious’ that a custodial sentence would be appropriate. For a period specified in the order the offender must reside with a local authority foster parent. It must include a supervision requirement.
  • Intensive supervision and surveillance: this will only be imposed if the offence was imprisonable and the court feels the offence is ‘so serious’ that a custodial sentence would be appropriate. The order must include supervision; curfew; electronic monitoring; and activity of more than 90 days but not more than 180 days (known as an ‘extended activity’ requirement).

Youth Rehabilitation Order Plan

For YROs which include a supervision, activity or programme requirement, the YOT worker will work out a plan called a Youth Rehabilitation Order Plan. This will outline the number of sessions the young offender must attend each month and for how long the sessions will last. Information concerning each separate requirements of the YRO will also be provided for in the plan.

The YRO aims to help that young person think about:

  • their behavior;
  • the harm offending can do the victim;
  • the harm offending can do to them and the other people involved;
  • reparation or other work with the victim or victims;
  • a plan for the future and a plan on how they will deal with any problems of difficulties which they face;
  • how they will be supported to access certain services.

Failing to abide by the requirements of a YRO

If a young person fails to cooperate with the requirements set out in the YRO they will:

  • be asked to explain within 24 hours by telephone or letter the reason they have failed to comply with the requirements;
  • if the reason they give is deemed unacceptable they will be issued with a warning;
  • if the same individual receives three warnings they will have breached the YRO and will be returned to court.

Depending on the reasons for the breach and the YOT worker’s recommendation and the level of risk of the individual the court can decide to amend or revoke the YRO.

Will the YRO always remain the same?

Throughout the supervision, the YOT worker will continually assess the individual’s risk of re-offending and of serious harm. Therefore, if the risk increases the YOT worker can increase the number of monthly visits; if the risk decreases so can the number of monthly visits.

Is there a possibility of the YRO being discharged early?

If the young person is responding well to the requirements under the order, the YOT worker will be able to discuss early discharge of the order with the court.

The court will be unlikely to agree to the early discharge of the order unless it can be shown that:

  • the requirements have been completed;
  • the individual has completed at least half of the order;
  • the risk of re-offending and the risk of serious harm has reduced or is deemed to be low;
  • the individual has followed all of the instructions given by the YOT worker.
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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