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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-use-reports/how-to-use-reports-section-5-case-management-guidance
This guidance describes the different reports that courts and referral order panels use and how to prepare them. It is for youth offending teams (YOT) and managers.
2. Guidance for workers in YOTs
Reports are important to determine the most appropriate way to deal with a child in the youth justice system. This is either at their appearance before a court for sentencing or at a youth offender panel after receiving a Referral Order.
2.1 Types of report
The different types of report are:
- use of an existing report
- stand down report
- specific sentence report
- referral panel report
- pre-sentence report
Use of an existing report
If you complete a report, with management sign off for quality assurance in the last three months, and there has not been any significant change in the child’s circumstances since the last AssetPlus assessment, the court may sentence on the basis of that report. In this situation your court officer must provide a written or verbal addendum, to cover the new offence.
Stand down report
Your court officer completes a stand down report on the day of court and presents it either verbally or in writing.
In situations where the child is well known to your YOT, or the matters before the court are quite straightforward, you may find it appropriate to suggest a stand down option to ensure the prompt administration of court processes. The report must cover the same key headings as a pre-sentence report and be subject to local management sign off processes for quality assurance, where relevant. You may not use a stand down report if there is any prospect of a custodial outcome.
Specific sentence report
A specific sentence report may be requested if the court is considering the child’s suitability for a particular disposal or Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO) requirement.
You may suggest a specific sentence report in situations where you decide that a particular type of intervention, outside of the most commonly used supervision, is more suitable. You must:
- complete these on the day of the request
- cover the same key headings as a pre-sentence report
- ensure local management sign off processes for quality assurance
You should not use specific sentence reports if there is any prospect of a custodial outcome.
Referral panel report
A referral panel report is a report that you prepare to help the panel determine the contents of a Referral Order contract.
The court requests a pre-sentence report to provide an analysis of the child’s reasons for committing the offence and response to it, an analysis of the factors from the child’s background which have contributed to their offending, an assessment of potential risks and a proposal for sentencing.
The report may include information about the risk that the child poses for the court to make a ‘dangerousness assessment’ and may also be requested by the youth court at the early stages of the case i.e. when deciding if the case should be transferred to the Crown court. For ease these reports will also be described as pre-sentence reports.
2.2 Writing a pre-sentence report
You should formally present pre-sentence reports paginated with numbered paragraphs and prepare them using the following standard format:
- front sheet
- sources of information
- offence analysis
- assessment of the child
- assessment of the need for parenting support including suitability for a Parenting Order
- assessment of risk to the community, including the likelihood of reoffending, risk of serious harm to others, and risks to the child’s safety or wellbeing
- conclusion and proposal for sentencing
Pre-sentence reports must be brief and clear and, except in very complex cases such as multiple offences or dangerousness assessments, should not exceed four pages. You should make and adhere to local agreements on the number of paper copies you provide and timescales for submission before court.
2.3 Interviews with children
To achieve the most thorough and fair assessment, it is vital that you treat the child with respect, from the very first contact. Reports are often the first contact the child has with the justice system, so measures such as not keeping them waiting when they arrive, arranging a suitable room, and explaining the process clearly can ensure the relationship begins in a positive manner.
The purpose of the interview is to gather information that gives a clear view of the circumstances surrounding the offence, so it is important to reduce any obstacles to engagement. Before the interview you should read the case summary and highlight the key facts and list queries to raise with the child. It is important to begin at a place where the child is comfortable. If you already have a relationship with the child then you may find it is appropriate to launch into an account of the offence. If it is the first time of meeting, you may prefer to be strategic and break the ice with more general questions about their family or schooling.
Techniques you can use when writing reports include ‘Socratic questioning’ where you ask – the ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘who’ and ‘why’ to encourage the child to express themselves. Another technique is the ‘Columbo technique’ where you place the child in the position of being the expert in their own experiences. You would do this by asking a question like, “can you help me to understand why…”. By communicating genuine interest in the responses and a sense of curiosity in the answers, you can encourage a more full and honest disclosure.
If the child’s account does not fit with that in the case summary, it is important not to threaten or make judgemental statements. An alternative may be to present the child with both accounts and ask them if they can explain the disparity. Your role as author is to provide a balanced and objective account for the court.
It is important to remember that many children in the youth justice system have experienced substantial trauma and may have undiagnosed learning difficulties or disabilities. They may also experience substantial difficulty in expressing themselves. You should use a range of techniques to encourage and support communication, and not assume that they are being obstructive. But, you should also be prepared for guarded, uncaring or aggressive responses to questioning, and be ready to ‘roll with resistance’, change topic and give opportunities for the child to express emotion throughout the process.
2.4 Front sheet
Pre-sentence reports should have a front sheet following a locally determined standard layout, which contains the following information in list format:
- demographic information – name, date of birth, age at court hearing and address of child
- types and dates of offences under consideration
- court name and petty sessions area
- date report requested and date completed
- your name, job title and office address
- covering statement: “This is a pre-sentence report as defined in section 158 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and has been prepared in accordance with National Standards for Youth Justice Services and relevant guidance.”
2.5 Sources of information
All reports should include information from:
- two interviews with the child
- at least one discussion with the parent/s or carer/s
- Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) documents about the case
- the AssetPlus and any additional specialist assessments, including experience of trauma or exploitation
- reports of other professionals involved, including the child’s school
- victim statements and views
You should also refer to any relevant information not provided, with reasons why it was not available.
2.6 Indication of seriousness
When the court requests a pre-sentence report it will give a non-binding indication of the seriousness of the offence and the range of sentences/ requirements it wishes to consider. The court will give an indication of whether the offence is either:
- serious enough to warrant a community penalty
- so serious that neither a fine alone, nor a community penalty can be justified.
Your court staff should note this and the pre-sentence report should be undertaken on this basis.
In circumstances where the court requests an ‘all options’ pre-sentence report, your court duty staff should ask the court to clarify their view of the seriousness to take this into account when preparing the report.
2.7 Offence analysis
The offence analysis section seeks to analyse why the child committed the offence at this time. You should address the offence as accepted by the court at the point of conviction - this may differ slightly from CPS advance disclosure.
It is not necessary to give a detailed account of the offence; brief details given should focus on any significant differences from the CPS account. If the analysis covers more than one offence, authors should usually cover the most serious offence first, unless a chronological account if necessary to understand events.
This section analyses:
- any aggravating or mitigating factors, including whether the offence was committed on bail or serving any other court order
- the context of the offence – the immediate circumstances and anything wider
- the level of premeditation and planning involved
- an assessment of the child’s culpability – their maturity, any mental health problems, learning difficulties, communication needs
- the extent to which they are being exploited into criminal behaviour by others
- any pattern to the offending or unacceptable behaviours
- the impact on any victim/s and the child’s response to this
- any use of substances which affected the child’s behaviour
- the child’s account of their motivation, attitude to any victim, to the offence and its consequences
- acceptance or minimisation of responsibility and any peer influence the author feels is relevant
- desire or action to make amends
If the child is found guilty at trial and maintains their innocence, this should be stated. In this case you should try to engage them in discussion about themselves to understand possible motives. It may be appropriate to speculate why these offences occur, for example referencing the most common factors influencing particular offence types. It is important to thoroughly evidence your conclusions.
You should remember that there is a spectrum of denial. External attributions which demean or dehumanise victims such as “she was asking for it” are worrying and are likely to promote further offending. Others such as blaming alcohol may actually help, as they enable the child to separate their behaviour from themselves – so stopping the drinking is likely to stop the behaviour.
It is vital that you are aware and clearly state that denial is not necessarily a predictor of increased risk, just as simple admission does not decrease risk. If the child can take responsibility for changing future behaviour, even without acknowledging the extent of past actions, this should be a positive indicator reflected in the analysis.
2.9 Young person assessment
The young person assessment is based substantially on the AssetPlus assessment. If you are writing the pre-sentence report you may find it helpful to complete this section first before moving on to the offence analysis, as this may inform consideration of the child’s motivation.
The content of this section should focus on relevant and significant factors rather than providing a whole life history. It should complement the offence analysis and provide further information on why the child committed their offence without repeating information.
It is important to assess whether the child is being exploited into criminal behaviour by others, and if you have any concerns this is the case, to refer to the National Referral Mechanism.
This section should also include an assessment of the influence of the child’s parents or carers, and any intervention suggested to improve this.
You may also ask the child and parent or carer to complete an additional safeguarding assessment tool to establish any safety needs for the child as a result of their contact with the justice system. This may include:
- affiliation to gangs, or geographical or territorial areas which might cause conflict with others or restrict the venues available for interventions
- concerns about potential conflicts with other children known to the youth justice services
- personal issues which may impact on safety
This is also an opportunity for parents or carers to consider how they can support and facilitate their child’s engagement with the order.
While you can use this section to refer to additional specialist assessments undertaken, it is important that all elements of the report are prepared by you to improve the flow of the report and make it easy to read. You should not reproduce large sections of assessments from other professionals. Instead you should refer to them and make the whole report available at the court’s request.
2.10 Consider diversity
You have a responsibility to treat children with fairness, dignity and respect at all times, including in the preparation and content of reports. Interviews with children and their parents or carers must be sensitive to factors of difference, and you must take all reasonable steps to ensure that these are respected, including arranging for translation services where necessary.
You should be aware of ‘invisible’ disabilities, such as mental health issues or learning disabilities, and ensure that assessments are thorough and well researched. You should also take into account issues of faith, religion and belief when analysing the child and making recommendations for sentencing. You should also note that girls are often disadvantaged by the justice system because provision is targeted at boys who form the majority of its client group, and ensure that their needs are taken into account.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation undertook a thematic inspection on Race which identified that the quality of pre-sentence reports nationally is poorer for people from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups. It is vital that reports for children from these groups avoid stereotyping and assumptions. Race must not be ignored but put into the context of the child’s experience, including incidences of racism or a sense of injustice with relation to issues such as school exclusion or a perception of being targeted by police which have contributed to offending should be recognised.
2.11 Risk assessments
The section on risk assessments should logically flow from the preceding information, and provide an overview of the assessment of risk. It includes the following assessments:
- likelihood of reoffending
- risk of harm to others
- risks to the child’s safety or wellbeing
The likelihood of reoffending assessment is based on AssetPlus. It may have a negative impact if you include the scores given by tools such as the youth offender group reconviction score. Instead it should give a clearly expressed and informed assessment of:
- the risk that the child will commit further offences
- the nature, degree and imminence of the risk
- the positive factors which, if built upon, could support desistance
You must not confuse the risk of serious harm assessment with the risk of re-offending – this assesses future behaviour with a negative impact. You should also not include terms such as prolific and priority offender or Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements in reports. You must consider any patterns of potentially harmful behaviour and include any relevant known incidents which did not result in a charge. You must also clearly evidence conclusions on the level of risk.
Unless it has been clearly included within the young person assessment, you should also discuss safety and wellbeing in this section. An assessment of risk to the child should include consideration of:
- their personal mental health
- self harming or suicidal actions or ideas
- any risk taking behaviour such as substance misuse or sexual promiscuity
It should also consider any actions or omissions of others which may affect the child’s safety or wellbeing, and the potential impact of any custodial sentence imposed by the court. This section should also include positive and protective factors which you can support to reduce risk.
2.12 Dangerousness assessments
If a child is convicted of a specified offence (as set out in Schedule 15 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003), the court must consider the dangerousness of the child in determining which sentence to impose. In this case, assessments for dangerousness are required. If a dangerousness assessment is required, the risk of harm section above is not relevant. In other cases, pre-sentence reports only need to consider dangerousness if the court specifically requests it.
Read the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 on ‘dangerousness’. Guidance for YOTs on Public Protection Sentences and ‘Dangerousness’ is also available.
This section of the pre-sentence report should start by setting out that the offence is a specified offence under schedule 15 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, and if relevant, that the offence is a serious offence as defined by section 224 of that Act (i.e. it is a specified offence and it is punishable by custody for life or detention for a period of ten years of more).
You must consider the past behaviour of the child and list the offences they were convicted of and their nature and circumstances which may inform the assessment of dangerousness by the court. There must also be consideration of any known behaviour which did not proceed to charge, such as incidents in school, which relate to dangerousness and may inform the court’s decision.
The assessment of dangerousness is set in section 229 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. A child will be assessed as dangerous by the court if the court considers that there is a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm occasioned by the child committing further specified offences.
You should not make a recommendation either way about the dangerousness of the child. The report simply presents the facts of past harmful behaviour, whether convicted or not, to inform the court in making this decision.
If you believe that a robust and appropriate risk management plan could be put in place to control and reduce the level of risk of serious harm to others, you should outline this in the report.
2.13 Conclusion and proposal for sentencing
This section should move towards a single proposal for sentencing, following clearly and logically on from the rest of the pre-sentence report. The interventions proposed should aim to reduce further offending, including future risk of serious harm to others. The proposal should:
- reflect the initial indication from the court as to the seriousness of the offence
- the proposed frequency of supervision appointments based on the desistance needs and risk of serious harm to others
- the sentencing options available
The report should address the type of sentence and requirements that are most likely to encourage a move to a pro-social identity and address risk of harm to others. It is not necessary to address every available sentencing option or available requirement. Instead the proposal should be tailored to the particular circumstances of the child and the offence/s committed.
If the court is considering imposing a custodial sentence, then you should note the likely impact of this on the child, including:
- the impact on education, training and employment,
- mental health
- safety and wellbeing
This section should also note the extent to which this option would reduce or even potentially increase offending behaviour. If custody is a likely outcome of the sentencing process you can include considerations around the length of sentence.
The proposal for sentencing should be the final sentencing option discussed and flow logically from the rest of this section. It should outline the personalised package of intervention you will deliver in relation to the proposed sentence. This will be dependent on local availability of services but will include interventions you deliver directly and those provided by partner agencies.
2.14 Preparing a pre-sentence report on a child nearing their 18th birthday
You should identify children who need extended supervision as early as possible. An assessment of the impact of this should be included within pre-sentence reports. It should also be included in any recommendations made for sentencing.
Once allocation of sentence supervision has been agreed, you should include a first appointment with either the NPS or CRC in the report as appropriate.
Read the Case Management Guidance: Section 4 for more information on case transfer to probation services.
For further information read the following:
- Joint National Protocol for Transition in England
- the Youth to Adult Transitions Framework Process Map 2015 - Annex A
- In Wales, refer to the Youth to Adult Transition Principles and Guidance (Wales) June 2015
2.15 Proposing a Referral Order
If a child is in court for the first time and has pleaded guilty, the options available for the you to consider are:
- Conditional Discharge
- Absolute Discharge
- custodial sentence
- Referral Order
Further Referral Orders can be proposed for subsequent offences if there is a guilty plea.
You should inform the court that young people who reach their 18th Birthday while completing a Referral Order will continue to be managed by the YOT.
Read the Referral Order guidance for more information.
For cases which meet the custody threshold, you should consider proposing an intensive Referral Order, following a similar programme to Intensive Supervision and Surveillance for a Youth Rehabilitation Order. For intensive Referral Orders, you should create a timetable of at least 25 hours structured activity. This should be for at least the first three months of the order and taper, as appropriate, from then on. These activities should include:
- education, training or employment. 15 of the 25 high intensity hours should be timetabled in this category
- restorative justice. This may include:
- victim awareness
- community reparation
- writing a letter of apology
- direct restorative interventions
- one-to-one or group sessions to address the factors that contribute to the child offending. This may also include interventions to address past adverse childhood experiences; trauma or having been exploited into criminality
- sessions with the parents or carers to ensure that they understand the child’s licence requirements and are doing what they can to encourage compliance
- work to support the factors which increase resilience and desistance
There should also be a curfew included, although under legislation this cannot be electronically monitored for a Referral Order.
You should remember that the Referral Panel determine the content of the contract when you propose a Referral Order in a pre-sentence report. The report can suggest the types of activity you provide, which the panel may consider appropriate and which will almost always include direct or indirect reparation and interventions to address offending behaviour. The panel must ratify these.
2.16 Proposing a Youth Rehabilitation Order
When the court has indicated the offence is serious enough to warrant a community penalty and the child is not eligible for a Referral Order (including a second Referral Order), the most likely sentencing option will be a Youth Rehabilitation Order, which can have a number of requirements attached to it.
You should identify if the proposed length of the YRO will run past the child’s 18th birthday and if it is likely that the ongoing case management will be completed by the YOT or passed to the NPS / CRC. You should consider what impact this may have on the delivery of specific YRO requirements. This includes how successful delivery will be maintained.
2.17 Requirements: Community Threshold
There are a range of requirements available to the court, and you should be familiar with the full range and how they work.
A Supervision Requirement is the most common requirement, though you should be wary of using it as a default, and be clear about the desistance factors which supervision will support. It requires the child to attend the YOT and engage with support to boost positive elements in their life and move to a pro-social identity. When your case manager recommends a Supervision Requirement they should specify the:
- work to carry out
- needs to address
- tools to use
The number of contacts you propose should be in line with the assessed Scaled Approach level.
A Programme Requirement calls for the child to attend a programme to address, for example, knife enabled crime, violence or victim awareness.
An Activity Requirement requires the child to engage in particular activities for a specified number of days. It will usually require the child to engage in reparation.
Attendance Centre Requirement
The Attendance Centre Requirement calls for the child to attend an attendance centre for a specified number of hours. This requirement can be of particular use when the child is in full-time education or employment during the week and has supports desistance.
A Curfew Requirement asks the child to stay in a specified place during specified hours. If this requirement is used on its own then it is not monitored by tagging so can be used for certain types of accommodation, such as in a hostel, where electronic monitoring equipment is not suitable. You must ensure that it is possible to have effective monitoring of this requirement, as lack of oversight may reduce the child’s confidence in the ability of justice services to hold their behaviour to account.
An Education Requirement is only available to children of school age. The child must comply with the education arrangements made by the local authority. This requirement is only suitable where there is a clear link between the specific offence and the need for education. You should use it with care because if a child has a negative perception of education, enforcing attendance may have a damaging impact and criminalising non attendance may undercut the attempts of professionals to address this.
A Residence Requirement must stay with a specified person or in a specified place. You must be clear that this is necessary to reduce the likelihood of further offending.
Local Authority Residence Requirement
A Local Authority Residence Requirement calls for the child to stay in accommodation arranged by the local authority for a specified period. As with the above requirement, you must be clear why this is necessary, and not use it as a way to address vulnerability factors.
Drug Treatment Requirement
A Drug Treatment Requirement calls for the child to attend treatment by a qualified person to reduce dependence on drugs. This will be most effective if the child agrees with its use and commits to address their drug use.
Drug Testing Requirement
A Drug Testing Requirement calls for the child to provide samples as required to see if they have taken drugs To impose this requirement you must have qualified staff and safe and private facilities in place to manage it appropriately.
Mental Health Treatment Requirement
A Mental Health Treatment Requirement calls for a registered medical practitioner or chartered psychologist to treat the child for a specified period with the aim of improving their mental health. Because enforced treatment is unlikely to improve mental health issues, this requirement is likely to be used very infrequently.
Intoxicating Substance Treatment Requirement
The Intoxicating Substance Treatment Requirement calls for the child to attend treatment to reduce dependency on alcohol or another substance. This is more effective if the child agrees to the requirement and is genuinely committed to addressing their use of substances.
The Exclusion Requirement bans the child from going into a specified area for a specified timescale – up to three months. You should provide a marked map to the child or young person so that they are clear on the exact restrictions being imposed. You must be clear on the need for this requirement to support desistance and it should not be used to address safety factors.
Prohibited Activity Requirement
The Prohibited Activity Requirement restricts the child from undertaking a specific activity during a specified period. You should ensure that this restriction is necessary and proportionate.
Electronic Monitoring Requirement
The Electronic Monitoring Requirement subjects the child to a curfew and they are tagged to ensure compliance. You should note that curfew times can be flexible to reflect the:
- risk level
- positive evening commitments of the child
Daytime curfews are also possible, for example if a child is robbing children coming out of school
Unpaid Work Requirement
The Unpaid Work Requirement is available for use with 16 and 17-year-olds only and can impose between 40 and 240 hours over a 12-month period.
2.18 Requirements: Custody Threshold
Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Requirement
The Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Requirement is imposed for between 90 and 180 days. It is accompanied by an electronically monitored curfew. Intensive Supervision and Surveillance should be seen as a positive measure to address complex factors which contribute to offending. The high intensity element of the programme should be in place for half of the requirement, and then taper over the remaining period to encourage independence. The programme should include the core elements of:
- education, training or employment: 15 of the 25 high intensity hours should be timetabled in this category
- restorative justice: this may include victim awareness, community reparation, writing a letter of apology or direct restorative interventions
- offending behaviour: one-to-one or group sessions supporting factors which encourage desistance
- family support: sessions with the parents or carers to ensure that they understand the child’s licence requirements and are doing what they can to encourage compliance
- interpersonal skills: work to support the factors which can increase resilience and desistance
Intensive Fostering Requirement
The Intensive Fostering Requirement is a legally available disposal which local areas can choose to implement. It is appropriate as a direct alternative to custody where living arrangements have contributed significantly to the risk of reoffending. The agreement of the child, parent and local authority must be gained.
2.19 Custodial sentence
If you are writing a pre-sentence report and consider proposing a custodial sentence (following a carefully considered assessment and usually only where there are extremely serious issues around public protection and risk of serious harm to others), this should be reviewed by a manager and only be proposed after other intensive community orders have been considered and discounted. The proposal should not include an outline of what interventions to undertake in custody because they cannot be guaranteed.
2.20 Referral Panel reports
The format for a Referral Panel report is locally determined, but should be along the same parameters as that of a pre-sentence report. Panel reports must be brief – usually no more than two pages – and in plain jargon-free language.
An initial section should outline the facts of the offence as accepted by the court at the point of conviction, and the child’s views of the offence, highlighting any differences and responses to challenges where accounts differ. The impact of the offence on any victim should be included, and include an assessment of remorse on behalf of the child. Any views expressed by the victim in relation to reparation should be noted. The report should then discuss the key positive and risk factors identified in the AssetPlus assessment, and any advisory observations made by the sentencing court regarding areas of concern which the panel was asked to consider
You should then assist the panel by indicating the interventions available which address the factors identified in the assessment and suggesting potential content for the contract.
In custody threshold cases, an intensive Referral Order contract should be devised, based on the programme delivered for Intensive Supervision and Surveillance cases. This will include more intensive support and supervision and may include non-electronic curfew and monitoring.
The level of intervention and number of hours of reparation should be proportionate to the offence.
You should make the youth offender panel report available to youth offender panel members at least two days before the initial panel meeting. You should distribute the report according to locally agreed protocols, to ensure that the confidentiality of the child is maintained.
3. Guidance for managers in YOTs
You are responsible for ensuring that reports produced are concise, clear and of a high quality to assist courts and Referral Panels in making the best choices for children.
Section 156 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 requires the production of a report which assists the court to determine the most suitable way to deal with an offender, and contains information on a way prescribed by set rules. Section 12 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 additionally requires that before imposing a custodial sentence, the court must have considered a pre-sentence report.
It is your responsibility to assist the court determine the most suitable method of dealing with a child in the youth justice system by means of a pre-sentence report.
Reports are based on the needs and issues identified through the AssetPlus assessment process.
Reports must be:
- balanced: present a full picture of issues including risk, needs and protective factors, influence of trauma, experience of exploitation, degree of maturity and level of understanding
- impartial: based on information from a range of sources including the child’s views, CPS information, assessment by the YOT worker and the views of any victim/s
- timely: produced in line with the timescales set out in guidance, or those agreed locally with the court
- focussed: analytical rather than descriptive, following a logical structure
- free from discriminatory language and stereotypes: reports must be sensitive to factors of difference, and treat children with fairness, dignity and respect.
- factually accurate: information in reports must be verified
- understandable to the child and parents/carers: the language used must be plain, jargon and acronym free. Children and their parents/carers and legal representatives must have the opportunity to read the report prior to the court or panel, in translation if needed
3.3 Non-completion of a pre-sentence report
If a pre-sentence report has not been completed as ordered by the court then you should send the court written reasons explaining why the report was not completed.
You should make every effort to engage children in the production of pre-sentence reports. Where children do not comply, you should inform the court in writing. The use of bail conditions, requiring the child to co-operate in the preparation of reports, can be requested in these circumstances.
You should make every effort to produce reports as required by the court. In very exceptional situations, such as extensive staff sickness, where you have not been able to provide a pre-sentence report the court should be informed of this in advance by letter, which you should countersign. However you should note that courts have the authority to issue a Wasted Cost Order against your YOT where they consider that the failure amounts to serious misconduct.