The scaled approach

Youth Justice: The Scaled Approach is a major project supporting major changes in youth justice practice and legislation.

The project has included:

  • implementing a tiered approach to interventions in order to reduce likelihood of reoffending and risk of serious harm (The Scaled Approach)
  • support to practitioners in the introduction of a new sentencing framework
  • to ensure a coherent relationship between the new National Standards for Youth Justice Services, Key Elements of Effective Practice and the new Case Management Guidance
  • to support case management as an end-to-end process, and improve practice in assessment completion, pre-sentence report (PSR) writing and intervention planning.

Read the Equality Impact Assessment of the Scaled Approach project. An Equality Impact Assessment summarises the research and processes done to consider a project's potential or anticipated impact on different groups to promote equality.


We worked with YOTs and other partners to implement preparing for the Scaled Approach to be implemented alongside the Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO) on 30 November 2009. 

A range of frequently asked questions primarily based on feedback at briefing events in the regions and Wales can help understand the detail in the changes to youth justice practice.

We have produced practice guidance for YOTs on the YRO and other youth justice provisions of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. This guidance is non-statutory guidance for the Act. It outlines the YRO and other key youth justice related provisions of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act to enable YOT practitioners and managers to understand these legislative changes and prepare for their implementation.

National Standards

The revised National Standards for Youth Justice Services were signed off by ministers on 26 November 2009 and were published 30 November.

Case Managment Guidance

The revised Case Management Guidance is available to assist case managers and frontline operational managers in YOTs at the key stages throughout a case. The guidance incorporates the practice implications of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, Scaled Approach model and guidance on practice such as writing pre-sentence reports in relation to the Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO).

Scaled approach to interventions

The Scaled Approach aims to ensure that interventions are tailored to the individual, based on an assessment of their risks and needs. Evidence tells us that interventions are more effective when their intensity is matched to an assessment of the likelihood of the person reoffending, and are focused on the risk factors most closely associated with their offending. The key benefits are that interventions can be better targeted and, ultimately, offending and risk of serious harm can be reduced. This new way of working will also have the benefit of allowing youth justice services to direct time and resources to young people appropriately, in accordance with their risk assessment.

To prepare for this, we piloted scaled approaches to intervention in four YOTs and took the lessons learnt to draw up a proposed model for the Scaled Approach that was subject to a consultation process that ended in early 2008. Click for a full summary of the consultation responses.

Following this consultation process and after feedback received on an interim version published in September 2008 we published the refined model of the Scaled Approach in February 2009.

The concept of the Scaled Approach and the key elements of the model remained throughout. You can read more about the experience of the pilot sites and how that learning could help you embed the Scaled Approach locally by downloading

Preparing for the Scaled Approach - learning from the pilot.

The model will complement statutory guidance and sentencing guidelines are completed in relation to the youth justice provisions of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.

Relevant information

Download Process Evaluation of the pilot of a Risk-based Approach to Interventions, a report that presents the findings of a process evaluation of the pilot of the risk-based approach to interventions in four YOTs.

A follow-up study was also conducted on the risk-based interventions pilot.

Download the Risk-Based Interventions Pilot: Follow-Up (PDF)

Guidance and standards

To achieve the aims of the project we developed and revised the following range of guidance for youth justice practitioners and managers to ensure a coherent and consistent approach to their work.

Must do 
National Standards for Youth Justice Services – the minimum service requirements

What to do 
Key Elements of Effective Practice – evidence-based guidance on planning and delivering interventions

How to
Case Management Guidance – guidance on managing a case from the earliest point of contact to the end of an order

The Key Elements of Effective Practice and their accompanying source documents were published in July 2008.

Youth Justice Board


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