A Youth Attendance Order (YAO) is the most intensive community-based order for children. It is a direct alternative to a custodial order so it is reserved for the most serious offenders or for children with extensive criminal history.
A YAO offers regular and highly structured support in the community – up to 10 hours a week, as well as up to 4 hours a week of unpaid community work.
s.397 Children, Youth & Families Act 2005
(a) the Court convicts a child of one or more offences for which the Court considers that the child would otherwise be sentenced to detention in a youth justice centre as a result of the gravity or habitual nature of the child‘s unlawful behaviour; and
(b) on the day of sentencing, the child is of or above the age of 15 years—
the Court may make a youth attendance order in respect of the child with a specified term not exceeding 12 months and not extending beyond his or her twenty-first birthday.
2. The power to make a youth attendance order is subject to the restrictions set out in section 398.
The Court cannot make a YAO unless the offence to which the child has been found guilty attracts a term of imprisonment. The Court must also order a pre-sentence report to determine the child’s eligibility for a YSO before making an order.
s. 398 Children, Youth & Families Act 2005
Restrictions on power to make youth attendance order
The Court does not have power to make a youth attendance order under section 397(1) unless—
(a) the offence or one of the offences is punishable by imprisonment; and
(b) it has made enquiries of the Secretary and is satisfied that the child is a suitable person to be placed on a youth attendance order; and
(c) the child has consented to the order being made.