Young people and the law

7min read

If you are worried about your child getting involved in crime or antisocial behaviour, you can help by dealing with the risks known to cause youth offending, while making the most of those things known to reduce the chance of offending, at an early stage. 

Key Points:

  • The Youth Offending Team may request that you have to attend a parenting programme to help stop your child offending. They can ask for a Parenting Order which will legally require your attendance
  • If your teen is caught committing a crime, they may be taken into youth custody. There are three types of custody in which a young person can be placed
  • If your child is required to be placed under some form of surveillance, your local youth offending team (YOT) will be able to explain more about what this will mean

Young people in custody

If your child is caught committing a crime, they may be taken into youth custody. There are three types of custody in which a young person can be placed. They are:

  • secure training centres (STCs)
  • secure children's homes
  • young offender institutions (YOIs)

The Youth Justice Board (YJB) is responsible for placing young people in appropriate secure accommodation and setting the standards for these facilities. To help maintain and strengthen family ties for children and young people in custody, we always try, where possible, to locate young people as close to home as possible, both in distance, and in terms of transport links and accessibility.

Parenting programmes and orders

If your child becomes involved with the youth justice system or attends a project such as a Youth Inclusion and Support Panel (YISP) or Youth Inclusion Programme (YIP), you may be offered the opportunity to voluntarily attend a parenting programme by the local youth offending team (YOT), if you think it would be useful. However, if your local YOT thinks that you really need a parenting programme to help stop your child offending and that you may not attend voluntarily, they can ask for a Parenting Order, which will legally require your attendance. 

Parenting programmes provide parents with an opportunity to improve their skills in dealing with the behaviour that puts their child at risk of offending. They provide parents and carers with one-to-one advice, as well as practical support in handling the behaviour of their child, setting appropriate boundaries and improving communication. 

By helping parents and carers to improve their parenting skills, these programmes address one of the biggest risks associated with young people offending.

Assisted family visits

We have an assisted family visits scheme, which helps relatives of sentenced young people in the secure estate visit their children regularly. The YJB pay for visits to STCs, secure children’s homes and the Carlford Unit (at Warren Hill YOI).

The Prison Service runs its own separate scheme for the families of young people placed in YOIs. Claims for visits to YOIs, other than the Carlford Unit, should be made through the Prison Service by calling 0845 3001 423.

The YJB’s scheme helps pay the costs of one visit per week (every seven days) for up to two adult visitors (16 years or older), and up to three children (15 years or younger) who need to accompany the adults. If a family has young children they are unable to bring with them, the YJB will help with registered childminder costs.

We pay:

  • the return fare by public transport, or fuel costs if you travel by private vehicle
  • a contribution towards overnight costs in the event of an unavoidably long journey
  • a contribution towards any meals eaten if you are away from home for more than five hours.

All claims for visits to STCs should be made through the relevant YJB monitor covering the STC where your child is placed. You should ask a member of staff at the STC to give you more information when you arrange your visit.

YJB Monitors Office contacts

  • Oakhill - 01908 866 021
  • Hassockfield - 01207 565 619
  • Rainsbrook - 01788 528 806
  • Medway - 01634 823 305
  • Remember, you should always book your visit with any type of establishment before travelling

Young people under surveillance

A form of surveillance, such as tagging, can be part of some sentences. If so, surveillance equipment may need to be installed in the young person’s home with the agreement of a responsible householder, who will often be their parent or carer. The necessary equipment is usually connected to a phone line and checks whether a young person is at home during set times. 

If a young person on licence is unable to comply with a court requirement to wear a tag because the householder refuses to allow surveillance equipment to be installed, the accommodation is unlikely to be considered ‘suitable’ under homelessness laws and so the young person will have to live elsewhere. 

However, if the young person is on the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme (ISSP) and there is a problem installing the equipment at home, alternative methods of surveillance will be sought. For example, if there is no phone line, one can be installed for the use of surveillance equipment only. 

If your child is required to be placed under some form of surveillance, your local youth offending team (YOT) will be able to explain more about what this will mean and the benefits of agreeing to the installation of equipment at home.

Further resources

It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us online via our live chat service, email us at or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker. 

Other organisations that may be useful

You can speak to your local Youth Offending Team or Children’s Services at your Local Authority.  If you have a solicitor, they can give you advice. You can also speak to Prisoners Families Helpline on 0808 808 2003. Please read this advice article from Lawstuff on Police and the Law.   

This article was kindly provided by Youth Justice Board