Inspection of youth offending work: high-performing Peterborough continues to improve

Peterborough continued to improve its overall performance, said Paul McDowell, Chief Inspector of Probation, publishing the report of a recent joint inspection of the work of Peterborough Youth Offending Service (YOS).

This joint inspection of youth offending work in Peterborough is one of a small number of full joint inspections undertaken by HM Inspectorate of Probation with colleagues from the criminal justice, social care, education and health inspectorates. Inspectors focused on six key areas: reducing the likelihood of reoffending, protecting the public, protecting children and young people, ensuring that the sentence is served, the effectiveness of governance and the delivery of interventions. Most youth offending teams selected for inspections are those whose performance is of significant concern. Inspectors also include high-performing areas to establish a benchmark of good practice, and Peterborough was chosen on this basis.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • work to reduce reoffending was satisfactory. Assessments were good and case managers consistently involved the children and young people and their parents/carers in the development of plans. Pre-sentence reports were consistently concise and of a high standard. High numbers of children were placed in suitable education, training and employment provision;
  • work to protect the public and actual or potential victims was satisfactory. There was good partnership work with the police. Victims of crime were satisfied with the service they received;
  • work to protect children and young people and reduce their vulnerability was good. Liaison between case managers and children’s social care services was good and information sharing between the two departments was done well;
  • work to ensure that the sentence was served was good. The YOS benefited from having excellent health provision which made a substantial difference to the work with many young people. The YOS took proper enforcement action when required;
  • governance was satisfactory. There were good strategic partnerships in Peterborough. The Management Board had clear terms of reference and a reporting structure to the Safer Peterborough Partnership; and
  • the management and delivery of interventions was satisfactory. The YOS had produced some very good materials internally and the quality of interventions was evident.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • some risk of harm work was inconsistent and in custodial sentences, planning to manage the risk of harm to others needed substantial improvement;
  • there was a need to develop local information as well as data on the quality of work undertaken and its impact on children and young people and communities, though the Board recognised that; and
  • the impact of substance misuse interventions was inconsistent.

Inspectors made a small number of recommendations to assist Peterborough in its continuing improvement, including: paying greater attention to managing the risk of harm a young person poses while in custody, improving the way education, training and employment data is collected and analysed and developing the performance data available to the YOS Management Board.

Paul McDowell said:

“Children and young people and parents/carers consistently complimented the work of the YOS.  This level of affirmation reflected the high regard with which the service was held. Staff were actively and creatively working with children and young people to bring about lasting change, in particular to reduce reoffending.  We found evidence of good multi-agency working to protect the public and interventions were generally delivered well. We found considerable effort being invested in early prevention work both in the YOS and undertaken jointly with other agencies.

“We were pleased to find that Peterborough YOS had continued to improve its overall performance since our previous inspection in 2012. Staff were committed to providing the best service and we saw evidence of the recommendations made in 2012 being implemented.”


  1. The report is available at from 16 April 2014.
  2. The inspection programme of youth offending work, based on a risk-proportionate approach, was agreed by ministers in December 2011. Under this programme, full joint inspections are targeted primarily on areas where there are significant concerns about the effectiveness of youth offending work, based primarily on the three national youth justice indicators, supplemented by other measures, such as recent inspections. Occasional inspections are undertaken in areas that report high performance, in order to maintain a benchmark for good practice. Inspectors chose to inspect Peterborough YOS because they were performing well on all three of the youth justice indicators and their work, following assessment via HMI Probation’s previous inspection programme, required minimum improvement.
  3. These inspections focus on issues not subject to other forms of external scrutiny: work to reduce the likelihood of offending and re-offending by young people; the management and minimisation of the risk of harm that a young person may pose to other people; safeguarding young people from harm (from their own actions and others); and work to ensure they serve their sentence.
  4. The inspections are led by HMI Probation, with participation by Ofsted, CQC and HMI Constabulary (and in Wales by the corresponding Welsh inspectorates, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, Estyn and Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales).
  5. For further information or to request an interview, please contact Alex Pentecost at HMI Probation on 0161 240 5336.