Screening and assessment in the youth justice system

In the community, the assessment tools used in the youth justice system are Asset for children and young people and Onset for children and young people at risk of offending. There are also specific screening and assessment tools for substance misuse or suspected mental health problems (SIFA and SQUIFA). 

Find out more about Asset, Onset, SIFA and SQUIFA, on the Assessment page of the Ministry of Justice website

A number of youth offending teams (YOTs) have developed their own tools.  Asset and Onset were designed specifically to assess risk in relation to offending and to measure progress in preventing re-offending.  Whilst they include sections on physical, emotional and mental health, and substance misuse, their focus is on the extent to which these health needs are associated with the likelihood of further offending. As a result physical health problems are often overlooked and hidden disabilities such as speech and language difficulties lack understanding.  During 2012 the Youth Justice Board are redesigning their assessment tools.

In custody, a range of assessment tools are used, including some that have been developed by individual establishments and others that have been tested in different establishments and regions. These include detailed screening and assessment tools for the identification of health needs.

As part of the programme of work under the Healthy children, safer communities strategy, a single tool for the screening of health and well-being needs is being developed for use across the youth justice system. This is called the Comprehensive Health Assessment Tool or CHAT. There will be one version for community settings and another for custodial settings. 


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