Inspectors praise ‘highly regarded’ youth justice team

Joe Lepper
Thursday, November 9, 2023

Cambridgeshire’s youth justice service has been praised by inspectors for the support it gives to young people from its “highly motivated” staff.

McAllister: 'Cambridgeshire youth justice service is performing well'. Picture: Sue McAllister
McAllister: 'Cambridgeshire youth justice service is performing well'. Picture: Sue McAllister

The service has been handed an overall rating of "good" following a visit from the HM Inspectorate of Probation team.

Staff are praised in the inspectors' report for their motivation, skills and knowledge. Meanwhile, the service’s focus on learning and development is welcomed.

Inspectors found “many positive examples” where staff worked well with children to support them into education, work and to strengthen relationships in their family.

They are also impressed by the team’s involvement of the wider community in supporting children to ensure they are supported when the involvement of the service comes to an end.

“Cambridgeshire youth justice service is performing well, and it is highly regarded by its partners,” said interim chief inspector of probation Sue McAllister.

“We found children benefit from a wide range of services including access to a psychologist. We are confident the service is committed to using our recommendations to assist it in achieving its high ambitions for youth justice delivery in Cambridgeshire.”

In addition, resettlement work for children released from custody has also been rated as "good".

Areas of improvement include reviewing the services’ work to support children who are dealt with out of court, to ensure there is a “clear understanding of the risk of harm to others” and child safety. While delivery of these out of court disposals in Cambridgeshire is rated "outstanding", their planning has been handed a grade of "inadequate".

Inspectors have also asked Cambridgeshire County Council’s director of children’s services to ensure joint work with the youth justice services “is consistent and effective” in terms of safeguarding.

A lack of use of Outcome 22 deferred prosecutions, which involve diversionary, educational, or other interventions away from court, is also noted by inspectors.

They want to see more assessment of the impact of their use on children from marginalised groups and those overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Police in the county are urged to work with the YJS to ensure all children are offered such interventions “at the earliest opportunity”. 

"I am pleased the inspectors recognised the many strengths of the service," said Bryony Goodliffe, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s children and young people’s committee.

"They rightly found a highly motivated team of staff who were skilled and knowledgeable, and a service committed to learning and development.

"There is always more to be done, but we had already started work to address the small number of areas where improvement is required.”


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