The Crysalys Foundation is the lead for the project plan and the management of the new Youth Court Solutions service in Northamptonshire. This is the first service of its type in the UK. The working group for the new service was chaired by the High Sheriff of Northamptonshire, Mr Paul Parsons, with support from the Chair of Northamptonshire County Youth Panel, Mr John Baker JP and Mr Dominic Goble DL JP. Our Development Manager, Jane Deamer, was an active member of the project working group and project plan committee and undertook her inputs on a pro bono basis. We’re working in partnership with Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS), Service Six and Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service to deliver the new at youth court service staring in 2021. The new service will start once lockdown is lifted and restrictions allow.
The service will operate from Wellingborough Magistrates’ Court, on one Tuesday a fortnight from 10am to 4pm. Beneficiaries will include defendants, witnesses, victims, friends and family attending youth court.
Service Six offer
The team will engage and inform beneficiaries at court, provide information and brief solution-focused support services, refer them onto at court partners or into a wide range of cross sector community based services in the county.
Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service offer
The team will provide specialist interventions including: information and support on accommodation finance and benefit enquiries; substance misuse services; education, employment and training information; and emotional and mental health support.
Both Service Six and NYOS will be using the credible mental health thresholds scoring framework, Children’s Global Assessment Scale or CGAS to ensure that they only provide an at court service within safe capabilities, with any other greater needs referred on appropriately including to their own wider range of community services.
Our initial pilot project targets are:
to reach at least 70 beneficiaries, which represents circa 10% of the average annual defendant cohort + 1 family / friend each
achieve at least 80% beneficiary satisfaction with the service
20% of referrals completed – this may seem very low but this percentage is based on the unpredictability and lack of control of the project team over external cross sector service response, capacity and
4 quarterly reports and an annual collated project impact report
Our projected outcomes are:
Increased access to at court services – realising a new, innovative, multi-thematic, specialist scalable and transferable service model and opportunity by potentially capturing and engaging an entire county cohort at point of court intervention
Increased access to community based services – by acting as an information resource, advocate and facilitating a warm handover into diverse hyper local charity, community, public and other cross sector services
Improving data collection – and to some degree this has already started in simply asking the questions around existing data collection, analysis and dissemination
Identifying gaps in community services – with the intention of filling those gaps to ensure a holistic wrap around package in the county
Most of the recognised Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and other adversities, impact on the criminal justice system. Children and adults with experience of trauma and ACE’s may come into contact with the criminal justice system - both as victims or witnesses and perpetrators of crime. They may also interact with the civil justice ‘family law’ system. In fact, data clearly suggests disadvantaged and traumatised children and young people are disproportionately represented in the justice system. The justice system therefore has a key role in preventing and, in particular, mitigating the impact of childhood trauma.
In early 2020, we were approached by Northamptonshire County Youth Bench and invited to support their third iteration of the at court problem solving culture. We welcomed the opportunity and pledged pro bono resources to achieve early and collective impacts. The first Youth Court Solutions working group meeting took place in July 2020 and ratified a committee to develop and plan the new at youth court support service. By the end of the month: the committee was established; a Memorandum of Understanding had been drafted between the project management lead, The Crysalys Foundation, and Northamptonshire County Youth Bench; Northamptonshire Youth Offending Service (NYOS) and Service Six were confirmed as key delivery partners for the project; and we had consulted with Claire Ely and her team at the Centre for Justice Innovation (CJI) and drawn from their toolkit, knowledge and expertise, without which the project would not be as advanced as it is today. Also, in July, Service Six and our Development Manager, Jane Deamer, visited Wellingborough Magistrates’ Court, to liaise with Adrian Palmer, Operations Manager from HMCTS and to help scope the potential delivery, marketing space and ascertain the specification and procedures for the project operations. Once we had the basics established, a third layer of meetings started as Service Six (Claudia Slabon), NYOS (Cath Hickman and Ross Watts) and Jane Deamer met to co-produce a detailed project plan. We explored and translated a 12 month pilot project’s scale, scope and ambitions then shared and reviewed the draft with the sub-committee. By the end of September, we had a final plan signed off. The plan outlined the key governance, policy and operational aspects of the project providing a framework for the robust management and delivery of the service. In November we presented the plan to the working group and set the date for the project launch on the 11th February 2021. The launch was hosted by the University of Northampton and due to restrictions took place digitally.
Looking ahead, The Crysalys Foundation and CJI hope to explore other opportunities for partnership including creating an at youth court toolkit similar to the current CJI adult toolkit. The new toolkit will help us to share our experience, model and approach across the UK and make it much easier for similar services to be implemented in other areas of the country.
We would like to extend our great appreciation for everyone’s inputs of time, expertise, influence, skills and cash to make this a reality. This experience shows what is possible when we work collaboratively towards a common goal.