Evaluation of Preventing Youth Offending Project (PYOP)

Summary: Evaluation of a YJS run programme around a highly responsive intervention process for young children who have offended.




The intended outcomes are that policy makers, managers and practitioners are made aware of the evidence base and the successful outcomes of the Preventing Youth Offending Project (PYOP).

They will also be made aware of the nature and intensity of the intervention used, how it satisfies the general principles of “what works” for adult offenders, but also raises issues that require further examination for very young populations of offenders we report on.

For practitioners, policy makers and evaluators who are concerned with evidence based approaches to reducing offending in children in the following categories:

  • prolific offenders, defined through the national Youth Offending Information System (YOIS) database, as anyone with 10 offences in 12 months or anyone facing a custodial sentence
  • offenders with special needs, such as sex offenders
  • preventative/protective referrals for young people aged between 7 and 12 (while participants of this age were too young to be officially involved with the criminal justice system, all were known to be offending by the local police and the project)




The responsivity principle is the third element of the now well-established risk–need–responsivity (RNR) model of offender rehabilitation, which accruing evidence suggests is often sacrificed in structured intervention programs. This is an evaluation of a YJS-run programme which was designed by practitioners around a highly responsive intervention process for very young children (aged 7 upward) who have offended. Recent developments in the responsivity evidence base are reviewed, before presenting the evaluation results indicating significant and sustained drops in risk of recidivism. In-program factors such as the nature and dosage of interventions are examined, alongside outcome data.

Key elements of successful, but individually tailored and dynamic interventions for teenage offenders, noted by Lipsey and Wilson (1998), such as interpersonal skills, individual counselling, and multimodal and cognitive-behavioural elements are all key components of PYOP and it fits well with the positive, goal-oriented approach of the GLM (Ward & Stewart, 2003).

Where individual needs (or changed circumstances) are identified that cannot be addressed by core resources, further expertise is bought in. No two individual programmes are identical, with a mixture of one-to-one sessions and group work usually on a weekly basis, indicating high responsivity, and each participant’s case is reviewed every 8 weeks, with input and dosage adjusted as necessary.

Participants are continually monitored by the project coordinator who receives at least weekly feedback from those observing the participants, including police officers, parents, schools, social workers, and program workers.

Community-based (non-residential) programme, intervention includes one-to-one mentoring for reintegration into education, anger management, and constructive use of time.

One-to-one and some group intervention is mostly delivered by trained project workers with backgrounds in psychology or social work. Siblings are welcome at most of these provisions, and counselling and referral are available to parents. One-to-one work can occur in any setting, including the child’s home.




Source Organisation: University of Portsmouth
Contact: Tom Ellis/Claire Nee
Email: tom.ellis@port.ac.uk