Cognus Speech and Language Therapist, Lisa Ogden, is named as one of the outstanding staff members in the recent Sutton Youth Justice Ofsted report.
The recent OFSTED inspection of the London Borough of Sutton’s Youth Justice Service (YJS) found the staff to be outstanding.
‘All of the staff we met are experienced, appropriately qualified, and well supported by specialist staff. Those involved in the service’s ‘assessment clinic’, such as the speech and language therapist (SALT), school nurse and ETE worker, are particularly knowledgeable, committed, and enthusiastic.’ The SaLT was considered to be a ‘notable strength’.
The report went on to say, ‘There is a strong speech, language, and communication offer, and the SaLT is skilled, experienced, and has a good links with other speech and language professionals at a national level.’ Lisa (SaLT) chairs a National Network of SaLTs engaged in the Criminal Justice Service which ensures ongoing learning for SaLTs and the sharing of ideas, resources and support.
When a young person is referred to the Youth Justice Service in Sutton they are assessed in order to provide them with the most tailored support. The Speech and Language Therapist screens the young people for speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).
Research shows that at least 60% of young people who come to the attention of the Criminal Justice Service have SLCN. Many of these, research tells us, have not been previously identified as having these needs. If the screen shows difficulties, the SaLT, together with the young person and parents / carers, decide on whether a full assessment would be useful. A communication passport is also made which can be used in court to ensure fair access to justice. This was mentioned in the report as being valuable.
In addition, one of the YJS workers recently told the SaLT that the Communication Passport she had produced, had made a notable difference in Court, not just to the young person for whom it was written, but also for his co-defendants who were not from Sutton. They were able to understand the language of the Court because it was modified to support them.
An example of a Communication Passport is shown below:
Such Communication Passports are useful for a variety of settings such as medical settings, educational establishments and places of employment. They support the young person to advocate for their own needs without having to find the words to explain themselves.
The OFSTED report also mentioned the interventions that the SaLT carries out with young people noting that ‘she evidenced significant success with the children she has worked with, and reoffending rates for those who engage with her are much lower than the average for the service as a whole.’
People with SLCN also become involved in Criminal Justice as victims of crime. SaLT reports can identify a person’s vulnerabilities when it comes to exploitation. It is important that such needs are spelt out so that should a person become a victim, the Police can take their needs into account when interviewing them and Achieving Best Evidence. An Officer from the Metropolitan Police’s Sexual Exploitation Unit recently emailed Lisa to thank her for her report on a young person: ‘Thank you so much for sharing this report with the police. I have read it and truly feel that it will assist us greatly not only in securing the best possible evidence from this young person but also to provide the CPS with a clear and unambiguous report on just how vulnerable they are.’’
You can see the full report here: An inspection of youth offending services in Sutton (justiceinspectorates.gov.uk)