Youth justice: risk assessment management framework and evaluation guidance

An update of the 2014 guidance which outlines the standards and operational requirements for risk practice for children aged 12 to 17.

Appendix 1

Template CARM Risk Management Plan

As agencies work together to identify and meet needs and manage risks, they will plan together using the Child's Plan. This should be the primary resource for interagency risk management planning. The Child's Plan allows us to place behavioural concerns in a holistic context and encourages us to find ways of managing and reducing the likelihood of serious harm occurring. All responses and strategies must be developmentally appropriate for the individual, and leverage strengths whilst promoting the supports that are already in the child's life which can buffer against and reduce the impact of risks and vulnerabilities.

The template below identifies the key recommendations in relation to managing the risk of harm, which should be summarised in the Child's Plan.

Each feature of the management plan should relate directly to features of the likelihood of serious harm occurring, resiliencies and needs identified in the comprehensive assessment of the child. It also includes a contingency section to cover what actions need to take place in response to early warning signs that require additional measures and/or an urgent response to prevent serious harm or reduce its impact.

The following notes cover relevant sections of the form:

Nature of harm and likelihood of occurring: The start of the form provides a brief summary of nature and level of risk. It should not replace the more detailed risk formulation, which should be part of the comprehensive assessment of the child.

Monitoring aims to look for factors indicating changes in the likelihood of harmful behaviours occurring over time as well as early warning signs that serious harm is more likely to occur. These may be factors indicating imminence of serious harm or offending behavior (e.g. increased levels of substance use, more frequent emotional outbursts), a change in the type of harm posed, or a decrease in current likelihood of harm occurring (e.g. increased engagement with positive peers, more frequent use of positive coping strategies across different contexts). This section must identify the early warning signs, and thereby should cover: what is being monitored; why is it being monitored; how will it be monitored; who will monitor it; when will it be monitored; where will it be monitored as well as how and when changes will be communicated with the case manager or lead professional who has responsibilities for the plan. This should link to the contingency plan and clearly state when an urgent response is required.

Supervision is a means by which a relationship is established with the individual, to ensure that the individual is engaged through dialogue in a process of change and compliance. It may also involve oversight or administration of an order or sentence, such as imposed by the Court, in a manner consistent with legislation and procedures, to ensure that any requirements or conditions are applied and compliance with such requirements is monitored. In working with children who come into conflict with the law, supervision may be voluntary or statutory in line with the principle of 'minimum intervention' outlined in the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.

Intervention covers all aspects of the Child's Plan that are designed to reduce the likelihood of harm occurring over time. This may cover intervention to address the drivers of the harmful behaviours which may also address offending behaviours, as well as family work or other therapeutic interventions. Interventions need to be targeted and measurable in terms of impact over time, although it should be noted that it is increasingly recognised that programmes of work designed to focus exclusively on offending behaviours in children are limited in value and should be supported by enhancing the child's broader life skills, addressing social isolation, opening up access to appropriate opportunities in the education system, developing ability to manage self-regulation, addressing family problems and improving the child's relationships. Interventions that build on existing strengths may be more effective than those which attempt to create new strengths.

Victim safety planning aims to reduce the likelihood and impact of psychological and physical harm to known previous and potential victims. The focus in victim safety planning is on working with victims and potential victims to improve their safety and maximise their resilience.

Scenario Planning is a tool of strategic decision-making that does not focus on accurately predicting the future, but is a process that creates a number of possible futures that are credible yet uncertain (Schoemaker, 1995). Scenario planning must be based on and informed by the assessment of risk of harm regarding what we know of the child, the supports around them, the nature of the harm, likelihood of its occurring, in what situations it may be more or less likely to occur and how the assessed strengths and vulnerabilities could mitigate or escalate the risk of harm. In considering different scenarios where the risk of harm and its impact stays the same, increases, decreases or changes to the type of harmful behavior presented, this assists in identifying what actions, interventions and strategies are required to either promote or reduce the likelihood of that scenario taking place.

Contingency Planning gives particular prominence to key factors which may indicate that the likelihood of serious harm is escalating or imminent. There will also be early warning signs which indicate initial instability, disinhibition or movement towards harmful behavior which will require an appropriate, but less urgent response. Those involved in the case, including where appropriate the individual, his or her family and potential victims, should know what these early warning signs are and what the response to them should be. There should be a clear plan as to what action should be taken by whom and how quickly. Emergency contacts should be identified both within and outwith office hours. The contingency section of this document covers this.

Management Plan for Risk of Serious Harm

What are we worried about?

'risk of what' (be specific as to the type of harm concerned about happening i.e. sexual, violence, stalking, fire-setting),

'to whom' (who are the likely victims such as known/ unknown, age, gender)

'when' (in what context and situation),

'why' (what is likely to trigger the harmful behaviour),

and 'how'

Narrative Formulation: What is the risk (avoid general terms and be specific), what has happened in the child's past that may explain the occurrence of this behaviour (predisposing factors), what triggers the harm (precipitating factors), what is maintaining the behaviour (perpetuating factors) and what strengths and/ or protective factors can you identify? (Weerasekera, 1996)

Contextual issues impacting upon the child and success of the risk management plan.

This may include peer group issues, particular locations where the harm is occurring or more likely to occur, where the child feels safe or not.

Child's view of the concerns and what will help them stay safe.

Parent/carers view of the concerns and what will help them keep their child safe and stay safe.

Preventative Planning: Using the formulation, consider how protective factors and strengths can be leveraged and how vulnerabilities and risk factors can be reduced to increase wellbeing and reduce the risk of harm.

Protective factors and strengths identified in formulation to build on:

Actions to take, person(s) responsible, and timescale:

Expected outcome - how will we know when achieved and how long do we expect change to take:

Indicators of positive change / barriers to progress including actions to overcome any barriers:

Vulnerabilities and Priority risk factors identified in formulation to reduce:

Actions to take (ensure consideration of Monitoring, Supervision, Victim safety planning, and Intervention), person(s) responsible, and timescale:

Expected outcome - how will we know when achieved and how long do we expect change to take:

Indicators of positive change/ barriers to progress including actions to overcome any barriers:

Areas of need where we are unable to provide the required input and the reasons for this:

Limitations to strategies identified within plan and reasoning.

Contingency Planning: Consider what the signs will be that the preventive planning is starting to break down, what are the early warning signs, what actions will be taken (e.g. who is first to call, what requires immediate action, what should be discussed at the next meeting).

Immediacy/degree of alert:

Behaviours/events to monitor;

Early warning signs:

Be aware

Be prepared

Take immediate action

Agreed actions:

Be aware

Be prepared

Take immediate action

Responsible person(s) and timescale:

Be aware

Be prepared

Take immediate action

Disclosure Issues

Details of disclosure:


Is there a need for referral to Child Protection, Adults at risk of harm, or any other agency? If so, please provide details including the person responsible and the timescale:

Decision whether CARM is required

CARM required

Note of any disagreement.


Date of next scheduled review:

Under what circumstances should the review be brought forward:

People required to attend:

Communication of the Plan

Who does the plan need to be communicated to:

Is the child or their family's involvement considered inappropriate? If so document the reasons for this:

Key Contacts




Telephone number (including out of hours where appropriate):

This document was updated in collaboration with the Risk Management Authority (RMA), NYJAG, Community Justice Scotland, the Children and Young People's Centre for Justice (CYCJ). The members of the Youth Justice Improvement Board following comments and feedback from a range of professional organisations including CPC Scotland and members, SWS standing committees for Children and Families as well as Justice, NYJAG and WSA Leads, agreed it.



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