Contextualised Peer Group Assessment Summary – East Sussex Youth Offending Team (November 2020)


During the COVID lockdown between March to July 2020, Children- Services and Sussex Police saw an increase and changes within the risk presentation of those children victim to criminal exploitation in the Hastings area. Changes included increased and extended missing episodes out of county; offending relating to drug supply and possession of weapons; and intelligence linking children to county lines and gang activity in London, Birmingham, Thames Valley, Slough and Chatham. As part of a multi-agency response to this increasing risk and in order to safeguard these children more effectively, the youth justice service led on a contextual peer group assessment

The aims of the assessment were:

  • To determine who are considered members of the group and the strength of their associations (are the children in the same group or different groups?);
  • To analyse their needs and/or the nature and level of risk and harm being suffered by the group paying particular attention to the contexts in which these needs or risk come together;
  • To identify potential interventions to increase the effectiveness of safeguarding practices and minimise risks for the children and their peers.

Implementing the Practice:

Following on from the assessment, a number of strands of work are on-going including:

  • Exploration of children’ experiences of assessment and to consider whether the development of a strengths based, trauma informed questionnaire could be tolerated by vulnerable service users and meet the needs of a range of agencies as an initial assessment process. This work is being developed collaboratively with Sussex University and a webinar planned for September 2021;
  • Alongside this, members of the East Sussex Safeguarding Children- partnership have been working with Research In Practice to explore current practices around intelligence sharing and to develop a partnership framework. A draft intelligence policy has been developed and will be shared with partners in July 2021;
  • To consider how parents can be enabled to develop support networks, to include a communication strategy for reaching other disadvantaged families;
  • Delivering individualised and peer group activity programmes to engage children;
  • Development of a Volunteer Youth Consultant Role as a mechanism for enabling children to engage in service design and delivery, including those from minority groups and girls


Youth justice service:East Sussex Youth Offending Team
Name:Nicola Maxwell