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Wednesday, 03 August 2016

Report: Youth offending work in Newcastle needs stronger leadership

Written by The Editorial Team

Staff at Newcastle Youth Offending Team were doing some good work to turn children away from crime, but senior leaders needed to work better together to drive performance, said Dame Glenys Stacey, Chief Inspector of Probation as she published her report of the work of Newcastle Youth Offending Team (YOT).

This joint inspection of youth offending work in Newcastle is one of a small number of full joint inspections undertaken by HM Inspectorate of Probation with colleagues from the criminal justice, social care, education and health inspectorates. Inspectors focused on six key areas: reducing reoffending, protecting the public, protecting children and young people, ensuring the sentence is served, the effectiveness of governance and court work and reports.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • work to protect the public and actual or potential victims was satisfactory. There were some strong assessments, planning and interventions, however, plans did not always involve the young person sufficiently;
  • work to protect children and young people and reduce their vulnerability was satisfactory. Inspectors saw some effective safeguarding work by individual case managers, including where complex vulnerability had been recognised and supportive action taken to address it; and
  • work to ensure that the sentence was served was satisfactory. Compliance work was carried out effectively with some excellent examples of professional discretion to manage a sentence as a whole and promote engagement.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • work to reduce reoffending was unsatisfactory. Planning overall was not cohesive enough and interventions did not always follow from either the assessment or the plan. A lack of appropriate and sufficient education, training and employment was a significant barrier to the YOT’s impact on reducing reoffending;
  • the effectiveness of governance and partnership arrangements was unsatisfactory. Individuals were committed but there was a lack of strategic ownership at Partnership Board level to drive, challenge and support the YOT to improve service delivery; and
  • the effectiveness of interventions to reduce reoffending was unsatisfactory. Some interventions were of a good quality. The victim’s perspective was a constant feature. The impact of interventions would be strengthened if they were used more rigorously and were more appropriate to individual need.

Inspectors made recommendations to assist the YOT to make continuing improvements, including ensuring that the YOT Partnership Board was more effective and accountable.

Dame Glenys Stacey (pictured) said:“Many staff at Newcastle Youth Offending Team were committed and tenacious and some good work was being done to turn children away from crime. However, the leadership and governance of the YOT needed to be stronger and the YOT Partnership Board needed to really drive forward reducing reoffending, protecting the public and keeping young people safe.”

The report is available at: https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation/