A service which works with young people and helps prevent them from re-offending has been commended for including children and young people in its decision making.

County Durham Youth Justice Service, formerly County Durham Youth Offending Service, was presented with Investors in Children Status for the work it does to involve young people in decisions that affect them and for its imaginative and inclusive practice.

The Youth Justice Service is a partnership between Durham County Council, Durham Constabulary, probation services and health services.

As well as offering a range of positive interventions such as restorative justice, which sees young people who have offended communicate with their victims to make amends, young people are supported with education, training and employment, health and mental health and with finances, debts and benefits. Young people are also involved in positive leisure activities, often resulting in raising money for charities.

Cllr Olwyn Gunn, Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “I’m delighted that the Youth Justice Service has received this award. This brilliant achievement clearly demonstrates the positive impact that the service has upon the lives of the young people it works with. It is fantastic to see the passion and commitment of everyone involved recognised.”

The presentation of the award, at a celebration event in Ferryhill, coincided with celebrations for the second anniversary of the service’s Skill Mill project which provides employment in watercourse and horticultural services for young people who have offended.

The programme aims to prevent the cycle of offending behaviour by offering practical real work experience, professional mentoring and nationally recognised qualifications for outdoor work. This helps young people to go on to access employment opportunities.

Recent successes for the Skill Mill team include improvement works at a Peterlee park and on allotment sites as well as step and pathway construction to provide safe access to the River Wear for anglers.

Representatives from the Great North Air Ambulance Service also attended the event, where young people presented a cheque for £500 from their fundraising activities.

Find out more about the Skill Mill project at www.theskillmill.org