Exploring policy and practice on the management of offenders in the community must be located within its broader socio-political, cultural and criminal justice context. Goldson (2011: 16) argues that youth justice should be explored within ‘its situational context’ in order to understand the signifi cance of historical and contemporary infl uences on the operation of the system and the extent to which policy and practice are shaped and mediated at local and community level. This chapter describes the contexts within which youth justice has emerged in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in recent decades. Although the respective systems are small by international standards, collectively they incorporate a number of legal, philosophical, policy and practice standpoints in responding to young people in confl ict with the law. Commencing in the mid to late 1990s in Northern Ireland and somewhat later in the Republic of Ireland, both systems have, in diverse circumstances, undergone varying degrees of change. In exploring these contexts, the purpose is to shed light on the infl uences that have shaped the respective systems in both jurisdictions including the agencies responsible for supervising young offenders in the community. Piecing together these macro-level infl uences provides the foundation from which practitioners’ responses to offenders’ behaviour, including non-compliance, are explored in the course of supervising young people in the community in later chapters.