Speech and Language Therapy Intervention (July 2016)

Summary: This programme aims to support children to engage and successfully complete their voluntary and statutory court sentences.
Age: 10-19 (dependent on service criteria)
Sex: n/a
Cost: Yes (of the speech and language therapists, who are usually commissioned through health or education)




  • To support children to engage and successfully complete their voluntary and statutory court sentences.
  • To provide children with Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) long term strategies and tools to enable them to engage within society effectively.
  • Enabling the participation of children, for example in their youth justice appointments as well as access to education, training and employment.




SALT is an intervention that can be used for people in or at risk of entering the Criminal Justice System (CJS). Current research rates show that 60-90% of children in the CJS have SLCN.

Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) is a whole service approach, from staff training to working directly with children. Examples of work include;

  • Assessment and identification to see if children have SLCN
  • Modelling therapy activities and strategies to youth justice practitioners
  • Making groups interventions more accessible (e.g. weapons awareness, substance misuse)
  • Direct therapy intervention to develop children’s communication skills, from developing their vocabulary to social communication skills
  • Ensuring written documents, for example appointment letters and contracts, are easy to understand

In the ASSETPlus there is a tool to screen all children to identify if they show signs of having a SLCN. To confirm if the child has SLCN, an assessment will need to be conducted by a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT). In Hackney Youth Offending Team (YOT), they have commissioned a full time SLT, initially for two years. The post is split between two SLTs who also work in schools in the local borough.



What Makes it Work:

  • SALT is able to bring another dimension to supporting children to engage in preventive work and the youth justice system
  • SLTs are able to support children to learn new tools and strategies and to use these independently
  • SALT is crucial for children and adults with SLCN to engage in the CJS. Research completed both within a CJS arena and Hackney YOT show that many children’s SLCN can directly impact their ability to understand and engage



Implementing the Practice:
In Hackney YOT, the therapists have been commissioned from the NHS. This was following the Hackney SALT service completing a small pilot. This was used as a platform to highlight the need and the potential implementation of SALT in the YOT

  • Initially if there is an interest in gaining a SALT for a criminal justice setting, contact should be made with the local SALT team
  • If you are not able to get support to have a SALT post, it is still worth investing in training for all staff members to increase awareness and look at all written documentation and processes by which children are supported
  • In the last 18 months at Hackney YOT the SLTs have trained YOT staff as well as a range of other professionals (e.g. Social Workers, CAMHS clinicians, youth workers and early intervention officers). This has been to increase the professional’s knowledge and understanding of SLCN and develop their confidence in working with individuals with SLCN
  • SALT created a care pathway and referral screen (which is based on the AssetPlus). The referral screen is a dual document; to screen children’s SLCN and also to refer children to the SALT service.




YOT: Hackney Youth Offending Team
Name: Brendan Finegan
Telephone: 020 8356 1107
Email: Brendan.Finegan@hackney.gov.uk