I was in the Youth Court today and the YOT (Youth Offending Team) were bringing breach action... except for one.
A 17 year old girl, with quite an extensive record, had been handed down an ISSP (Intensive supervision and surveillance programme). Much as we don't like to send kids to custody, sometimes it has to happen and the ISSP is the "last chance saloon" before custody becomes the only alternative.
The YOT were bringing her back to Court to ask for the ISSP to be revoked in the interests of justice, because she had done so well and had met and in some cases exceeded the YOT's expectations of her in three months rather than the six months she had been sentenced to.
This is somebody with a history of offending going back to when she was 11 and who had an ASBO at the age of 14.
We were given a lot of detail about what she had achieved and one particularly interesting point, and this isn't by any means the first time I've heard it, as part of the sentence she was given work to do in a local hospice and of her own volition had approached the management of the hospice to ask if she could do further work for them in her free time and in fact, asking if she could be a volunteer when her sentence was complete.
Owing to the necessarily sensitive nature of work within a hospice, this young person would have been watched like a hawk and would have been given the most menial of tasks.
We had a character reference provided by the hospice manager and countersigned by four patients which painted a gratifyingly different picture of the youth than a glance at her previous convictions might have led one to believe, saying that she always seemed to try to do just that little bit more than was asked of her.
This sort of thing is one of the high points in a Magistrate's day and it was with pleasure that we granted the YOT application to revoke
The only thing she said to us was:- "Can I go now please? I can't be here, I need to be with my people."
"My people" is what she calls the patients and staff at the hospice.
After she left, the YOT officer explained that she'd seen the death of one of the patients at first hand just after she had been introduced and that it had caused her to reflect upon her values and her life.
I don't think we'll see her in Court again
It has been a long time since I was able to comment upon such a positive outcome.