Independent trust's youth offending work deemed 'unsatisfactory'

Neil Puffett
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The first independent trust to be established by government to take on failing children's services has been told to improve its youth offending services after inspectors judged several areas of its work "unsatisfactory".

Doncaster Children's Services Trust launched in October 2014. Picture: Doncaster Children's Services Trust
Doncaster Children's Services Trust launched in October 2014. Picture: Doncaster Children's Services Trust

The Probation Inspectorate found that despite some good work by individual case managers in Doncaster Youth Offending Service (YOS), other aspects of work were not carried out well enough.

The youth offending service is one of a number of functions that transferred to Doncaster Children’s Trust last October when Doncaster became the first council to have children’s services removed from its direct control.

Inspectors found that work to reduce reoffending, and work to protect the public and actual or potential victims were both “unsatisfactory”.

Meanwhile work to protect children and reduce their vulnerability was also unsatisfactory.

Inspectors added that there was little joint work with children’s social care services, and assessments of vulnerability lacked understanding of the potential consequences of identified factors.

The effectiveness of governance and partnership arrangements was also found to be “poor”.

“The YOS management board had been ineffective and there was sporadic attendance by some agencies,” the report states.

“There was no evidence of scrutiny, challenge or joint problem solving and little performance data, either requested or submitted.”

However, inspectors did stress that work to ensure that the sentence was served was satisfactory, and engagement with children and their parents was found to be a strength during the assessment stage of work.

Paul Moffat, chief executive of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, said the organisation had already recognised some of the areas where significant improvement was needed within the youth offending service, such as the service’s management board.

"Plans to recruit new board members are now well under way and we have added Doncaster Council’s lead member for children, young people and schools, Nuala Fennelly, to provide additional scrutiny and oversight.

“We are pleased that the report also acknowledges areas of good practice, such our engagement with children, young people and their families, and our work to help young people progress well in education, employment and training.

"Also the positive recognition of our 'Getting On' programme which works with parents experiencing domestic violence issues from their children.

“I am very proud of the commitment, dedication and hard work of all trust staff to improve how we help young people stay safe and reach their full potential.

"We know there is much more to be done and we will be using the recommendations in today’s report to help us continue to shape and deliver the very best services for Doncaster’s young people.”

Lin Hinnigan, chief executive of the Youth Justice Board, said: "We will work closely with the youth offending service to ensure that measurable improvements are made.

"We will also continue to offer ongoing assistance through our role to assess, support and challenge youth offending team performance.”

Under government plans to improve services at the authority, responsibility for a range of services, including child protection, have been transferred from the council to the trust for a period of up to 10 years.

CYP Now Digital membership

  • Latest digital issues
  • Latest online articles
  • Archive of more than 60,000 articles
  • Unlimited access to our online Topic Hubs
  • Archive of digital editions
  • Themed supplements

From £15 / month


CYP Now Magazine

  • Latest print issues
  • Themed supplements

From £12 / month