Inspectors praise 'outstanding' youth offending team

By Neil Puffett

| 05 December 2018

A council's youth offending team has been rated "outstanding" following an inspection.

Inspectors praised joint working arrangements in Essex. Picture: Tom Campbell

Inspectors said work conducted by Essex Youth Offending Service (YOS), which is one of the largest YOT areas in England and Wales, with the fifth highest volume of post-court cases and the second highest population, is carried out to "an exceptionally high standard."
Children and young people, together with their parents and carers, were found to be meaningfully involved at every stage and made a valuable contribution to quality assurance of cases.

"There is a strong strategic and operational leadership and a well-functioning board that has a good understanding of performance and the challenges of practice," the report states.

"The staff group is skilled and highly motivated to achieve the best outcomes for the children and young people they work with."

Inspectors also praised relationships between partner agencies and described the approach taken to quality assurance as "an exemplar of good practice".

Essex is the second youth offending team in England to be rated outstanding under the current inspection framework - Hertfordshire being the other.

However, inspectors did note some areas for improvement. They said barriers to involvement of children and young people in suitable education or training needed to be overcome.

And greater national support was required to help the YOS deal with gang-based drug dealing managed from outside Essex, often referred to as "county lines".

The report recommends that the Youth Justice Board should provide support and guidance to youth offending teams on dealing with county lines, and ensure that there are national arrangements to support information sharing between partners and areas in these cases.

Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, said: "The arrangements for youth offending work and the focus given to it by strategic leaders are clear and well understood. The work is led well by both strategic leaders and operational managers."
"There is a sense of professionalism, commitment to achieving positive outcomes and effective working together, both within the Essex YOS and among its partners. Relationships at all levels are constructive, and healthy challenge is encouraged. Essex YOS needs to reflect on its strengths and put in place plans to make sure these are sustained and further developed."

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