The impetus behind the launch of the panels was to prevent the youths from becoming involved in crime rather then dealing with the aftermath once they are in the system. The Panels are multi agency groups with many working on a voluntary basis after support services and other interventions for children and their families. The original pilots were paid for through the Children’s Fund operated by the Department for Education and Skills. The key role for the Panels is to construct a package personally geared to each individual of proposed methods of support and interventions. This package has become known as the integrated support plan. Key workers are responsible for assessing the risk and for co-ordinating the package. Children and families wishing to avail themselves of the YISP services have to consent to a referral and assessment. Co-operation with the support plan is also voluntary. In order to achieve the best result the YISPs try to encourage the children and parents and carers to be involved in every stage of the process.
In order for a child to be considered for the YISP programme certain criteria must be met. The children must not have gone beyond the police reprimand stage, they must not be known to the criminal justice system and should be regarded at a very high risk of being an offender. The programmes offered through YISPs centre on either direct work with the child or indirect work on behalf of the child. Direct work includes the organising of activities for children along with one-to-one support and mentoring whereas the indirect work centres on referrals to other agencies on the child's behalf. Key workers are also useful as mediators between the school and the child and the child's parents and can sometimes assist in getting an excluded school re-admitted back into school.
According to an evaluation carried out by Morgan Harris Burrows (2003) since the use of the Youth Inclusion Programmes the arrest rate of juveniles has significantly reduced and exclusions from school had also declined. There has been a slight increase in school non-attendance although this could not be directly linked to the inclusion programme. Those responsible for the programmes argue that the system is still in its early stages and that the impact of the Inclusion Programmes will not be felt for some considerable time.
In the report mentioned above it was noted that