Evidence suggests that only a small minority of youth offenders will continue their behaviour in the longer term and largely independent of any interventions they may receive (Bateman, 2011; Haines & Case, 2015). Hence, “screening out” this larger low-risk cohort could have a positive impact upon the individual through a reduction in stigmatisation/labelling and free up resources for higher risk clients. This article outlines development of the Ceredigion Youth Screening Tool (CYSTEM)—developed and tested to address the two facets of criminality and vulnerability—closely aligned to the eight key risk indicators identified in the Risk-Needs-Responsivity (R-N-R) literature (Andrews & Bonta, 2010). Initial results with two cohorts of 372 young people indicate good convergent and discriminative validity in screening out the lowest level referrals, while also identifying 90% of potential future offenders. More importantly, CYSTEM is able to screen out approximately 35% of the low-risk offenders that are unlikely to require formal evaluation and/or intervention. It is suggested that the streamlining of this process using CYSTEM reduces demand on staff time and decreases the stigmatisation of young people referred for minor offences. Potential improvements to the tool and future developments in statistical risk prediction are also discussed.

Gareth Norris, Gwyn Griffith, Megan West
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, January 13, 2018