Swansea Bureau: children first, offending second

Date added 17-01-2013
Resource Type Programme
Classification Promising



The Swansea Bureau was established through a partnership approach between Swansea Youth Offending Team, South-Wales Police and supported by the wider Community Safety Partnership. The Bureau is underpinned by a children's rights, restorative justice and needs-led theory base. By acknowledging their wrong-doing, the young person is able to make amends and be diverted out of the criminal justice system. In addition, young people and their parents/carers are provided with the opportunity to access support services that are able to meet their needs.

To be eligible for diversion into the Bureau process, core criteria have to be satisfied which include:

  • The young person being a first-time entrant (FTE)
  • Aged 10-17 years old
  • The offence having a gravity score between one and three
  • The young person accepting responsibility for the offence(s)
  • Voluntary engagement by the young person and his/her parents/carers in the process

The Bureau process comprises five distinct stages:

Stage 1: Arrest and bail
Stage 2: The assessment of young people
Stage 3: Assessing the needs of victims
Stage 4: Panel
Stage 5: Bureau clinic

See supporting materials for further explanation about the Bureau's five distinct stages.

The key features of the Bureau are:

  • Inter-agency partnership between Swansea Youth Offending Service, South Wales Police and the wider Community Safety Partnership
  • It operates within a formal partnership agreement which specifies the roles of the respective local agencies, sets out agreed referral eligibility criteria, and clarifies decision making responsibilities
  • The Youth Offending Service is designated to act as a Police station
  • An established clinic which brings the decision making in relation to giving reprimands, final warnings and non-criminal disposals into a coherent framework. This is to improve parity in Police decision making
  • Young people who receive a non-criminal disposal avoid the negative consequences of a criminal record on any future education and employment opportunities
  • Trained members of the local community are involved in the Bureau clinic decision making process

It is designed to consider young people as 'children first, offenders second' by:

  • Slowing down the sanction detection process to enable parents/carers to be involved in the response to the behaviour of their children
  • Providing an opportunity for the voice of the young person to be heard
  • Separating the needs of the victim from the response to the child's behaviour
  • Focussing interventions on enabling young people to access their rights and entitlements

The most recent evaluation used a mixed methods approach to determine:

  • The changes in local police decision-making for FTEs since the Bureau began
  • The impact on outcomes for young people in terms of re-offending

A comparison of YJMIS data pre- and post-Bureau (2008/9 and 2009/10) introduction was undertaken. Findings include:

  • The use of reprimands, final warnings and prosecution for offences with a gravity score of one and two has decreased in favour of non-criminal disposals
  • Re-arrest/conviction rates were lower for young people receiving a NCD for an offence with a gravity score of one or two than they were for reprimand, final warning and prosecution
  • Re-arrest/conviction rates were higher for young people receiving an NCD for an offence with a gravity score of three than they were for reprimand, final warning and prosecution

Whilst the overall findings are positive, the authors of the evaluation raise caution in drawing definitive conclusions from the analysis, partly due to the numbers of young people being re-arrested/convicted across all disposals being low. Further investigation is required in relation to use of the Bureau for offences with a gravity score of three.

A thematic analysis of interview data was also undertaken. Three issues "emerged as most significant to key stakeholders in explaining the impact of the Swansea Bureau at a political, strategic and practice level:

  • Animating the Welsh Policy context
  • Pursuing a 'children first, offenders second' approach to young people who offend
  • Parental responsibility and engagement"

A further independent evaluation will be added in due course.

Age 10-17 years

Supporting documents

Swansea Bureau evaluation
Annex A - About the Bureau
Annex B - First time entrants performance


YOT / SE / other organisation Swansea YOT / Swansea University / South Wales Police
Name Eddie Isles, YOT manager
Sue Walters, YOT Police Officer
Dr Kevin Haines, Professor of Criminology and Youth Justice, Swansea University
Telephone 01792 522800
01792 295920






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