Youth Offending Teams play important role in Troubled Families Programme

Youth offending teams were playing an important part in the Troubled Families (TF) programme in their work to reduce reoffending by young people, but needed to address some practical issues, according to independent inspectors. Today they published the report of an inspection of the work of youth offending teams (YOTs) in developing and delivering their local TF schemes.

The report, The Contribution of Youth Offending Teams to the Work of the Troubled Families Programme in England reflects the findings of HM Inspectorate of Probation, the Care Quality Commission, Ofsted and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. The inspection focused on the part played by Youth Offending Teams on preventing and reducing offending and tackling antisocial behaviour by children and young people.

The National Troubled Families programme is an ambitious initiative and provides a framework whereby a number of agencies, including Youth Offending Teams, can work together on the most pressing employment, educational, antisocial behaviour and offending challenges presented by families across England. The approach offers support to families to bring about change. The programme has clear objectives tackled through locally designed and delivered schemes.

Inspectors found many examples where the work had the potential to bear fruit and the interim reoffending patterns were positive, despite the relatively short period of time the local services had been running. However, the limited evaluation which had taken place meant it was not easy to track outcomes from the work. Inspectors also found some partner agencies, such as YOTs, children’s social care services and educational services, had made a considerable investment in partnership working, and there were some innovative approaches from police and health care staff.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • uncertainties about the role of the lead professional often meant that partnership work was not as focused as it could have been;
  • arrangements for responding to families who did not engage, particularly in cases where there may be the need to take action on child safeguarding or school attendance, were not robust enough; and
  • many frontline staff said they had not had adequate training to undertake their TF duties.

In order to drive improvements, inspectors made recommendations to the Youth Justice Board, the Department for Communities and Local Government, local Troubled Families teams and partner agencies and YOT managers. These included ensuring that lead practitioners understand their role, all staff receive sufficient training, and YOT managers monitor and evaluate outcomes being achieved for YOT service users to enhance future performance.

Paul McDowell, on behalf of all chief inspectors, said:

“The Troubled Families programme is a common-sense approach which, significantly, has the support of families, children and young people and practitioners. At this stage in the development of these services, the need to improve aspects of practice means effectiveness of the work with Youth Offending Team service users is not yet clear. If the results from the Troubled Families programme were to show that it helps to reduce reoffending and make progress on the factors linked to offending, there would be a clear case for further investment in this work by Youth Offending Teams. On balance, our findings about the contributions of Youth Offending Teams to the Troubled Families programme give rise to cautious optimism. However, currently we must conclude that, for Youth Offending Teams, the Troubled Families programme offers a promising approach which is, as yet, unproven.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. A copy of this report can be found on the Criminal Justice Joint Inspectorate website at from 15 January 2015. 
  2. The Troubled Families programme focuses on turning around the lives of 120,000 families through integrated, keyworker led, whole family working. It addresses antisocial behaviour and offending, educational engagement and employment issues within families. It commenced in April 2012 and was initially intended to operate until 2015. This has been extended to 2020.
  3. HMI Probation is an independent inspectorate, sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, and reporting directly to the Secretary of Stateon the effectiveness of work with adults, children and young people who have offended, aimed at reducing reoffending and protecting the public. Further information about the work of HMI Probation is at
  4. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England. The CQC makes sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and it encourages care services to improve. The CQC monitors, inspects and regulates services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and publishes what it finds to help people choose care.
  5. Ofsted regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children’s social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.
  6. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and rigorously examines the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects and regulates all 43 police forces in England and Wales.
  7. Please contact Jane Parsonsin HMI Probation Press Office on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452 if you would like more information.