Youth Offenders

Extract taken from Council for Disabled People 'Young Offenders with SEN' - A New Legal Framework


The Children and Families Act 2014 transforms the system for disabled children and young people and those with Special Educational Needs and/or Disability (SEND). Part of the new legal framework will introduce new requirements for supporting children and young people with SEND when they are detained in youth custody.


The vast majority of Part 3 of the Children and Families Act, which sets out wider reforms to the SEN and Disability system, came into force on 1st September 2014. The new requirements for when a child or young person is detained will come into force on 1st April 2015.


Changes to the special educational needs and disability (SEND) system from 1 September 2014


The wider changes to the SEND system provide an important context to why and how the system will change for children and young people with SEND in custody. The new system started on September 1st 2014, with the exception of the provisions applying to children and young people in custody, which will start from April 2015.


Key aspects of the new system:


  • Age range: 0 - 25 system (for young offenders the framework applies up to age 18)

  • Working towards clearly defined outcomes

  • Joint working between Education, Health and Social Care; co-ordinated assessments and Education, Health and Care Plans

  • Engagement and participation of young people, children and their parents with greater transparency and information about what is available in the local area through the Local Offer

  • Personalisation and personal budgets (personal budgets will not apply in the secure estate)

  • School Action and School Action Plus has been replaced by a single category 'SEN Support'


Interim arrangements for young offenders with SEN


  • Interim arrangements have been set out ahead of the commencement of the new legal framework in custody from April 2015.

  • If an EHC plan is drawn up for a child or young person between 1 September 2014 and 1 April 2015 and they subsequently enter custody in that period, the EHC Plan will be treated as if it was a Statement. This means that the new rights and duties set out in this briefing note would not apply.

  • During this period, the host Local Authority will have the responsibilities it would have had were the provision in a Statement of SEND.

  • The Department for Education will review and update the transitional guidance in advance of 1 April 2015 if any additional transitional arrangements are required to support the implementation of these provisions.


What is the Children and Families Act seeking to achieve for detained children and young people?


  • One responsible Local Authority for a child or young person's special educational provision while they are in the community and/or in custody.

  • Continuous and appropriate special educational provision when a child or young person is in custody.

  • To help the resettlement process by identifying need and ensuring that provision continues when a child or young person returns to the community.

  • To make best use of the time the young person spends in detention. This is so that an assessment can get under way and support can be put in place immediately on release.


Who does this part of the legislation apply to?

  • Children and young people aged 18 and under.

  • Children and young people who have been sentenced or remanded by the Courts to relevant youth accommodation in England.

  • Relevant youth accommodation is a Young Offender Institution, a Secure Training Centre or a Secure Children's Home.


And who does it not apply to?


Although the new legal framework for young offenders with SEND sits within the wider framework for all children and young people with SEND (Part 3 of the Children and Families Act), not all rights and duties are the same. There is a specific set of rights and duties which apply in custody and with some restrictions:


  • It does not apply to children and young people subject to a Detention Order in the community. Children and young people serving a sentence in the community would be covered by the rest of Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014.

  • It does not apply to those detained in young adult YOIs for 18 - 21 year olds.


SEND Reforms - Young Offenders.pdf

Young Offenders with SEN.pdf