Our standards and ratings

We inspect youth offending and probation services against published standards. These standards are designed to drive improvement in youth offending and probation services. They were developed in consultation with service providers, based on evidence, and updated when necessary. The services we inspect know what our standards are, and their services are rated against them.

Our inspectors use the standards to ask the right questions and look for evidence to rate the quality of service delivery across each aspect of a service. All services are rated overall as either ‘Outstanding’, ‘Good’, ‘Requires improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’ as well as being rated at the level of individual standards. This will assist services in targeting their improvement activity. Our reports clearly explain why we have given services a particular rating.

We refreshed the probation standards in 2019 and included stronger links to delivery, a small number of additional prompts about diversity and specific organisational learning from Serious Further Offences (SFOs).

Read more about our changes to inspections of probation services in 2019-2020.

Download our standards and ratings documents:

Probation inspection

Youth offending services inspection

Our intention is to start applying these standards to our YOT inspections with effect mid-July.

We will keep our standards under continuous review to ensure alignment with developing research evidence alongside the learning and experience from our inspections.



HMI Probation four-week consultation on inspection of probation providers

We are asking your views on the changes that we are proposing to our domain one and three standards, the way that we will inspect against these standards and the schedule for doing so throughout 2019/2020 and 2020/2021.


From 8 November 2017 to 8 December 2017, we ran a consultation on our standards and ratings for inspecting probation and youth offending services. We received 25 responses to the probation consultation and 42 responses to the youth consultation. The reports below summarise the responses and how we are taking them forward. We will continue to be transparent in the way we work, and will in due course publish the final versions of the 2018/19 standards frameworks, alongside documentation covering the inspection processes, methodologies and ratings.

Our response to consultation on probation standards and ratings (Feb 18) (PDF, 455 kB)

Our response to consultation on youth offending standards and ratings (Feb 18) (PDF, 523 kB)

Below are the initial consultation documents:

HMI Probation consultation on probation standards and ratings_November 2017_ (PDF, 1 MB)

HMI Probation consultation on youth offending standards and ratings_November 2017_ (PDF, 1 MB)