Children not given enough help on release from custody, say inspectors

Too few children leaving custody are given the support and help they need to resettle back into the community and to stop offending, according to independent inspectors. Today they published the report of an inspection of the work of youth offending teams (YOTs) and others in tackling offending by children who go into custody.

The report, Joint thematic inspection of resettlement services to children by Youth Offending Teams and partner agencies reflects the findings of HM Inspectorate of Probation, the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted. The inspection examined the work of YOTs and their partners in response to findings from regular inspections of youth offending work which suggested services to children in custody and on release were not being delivered consistently well enough.

Inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • too many children had been rearrested, charged or convicted of new offences within months or weeks of being released;
  • when children were in custody, work in the community was not proactive and in too many cases was largely about attending meetings in the institution, rather than preparing for release;
  • much hard work was carried out in custodial institutions but it was not linked to giving children the best chance to stop offending and make a new life;
  • key staff did not fully understand each other’s roles, did not always value each other’s input and did not always work together; and
  • while there are some promising local resettlement projects, resettlement work in the community often started too late.

However, inspectors were pleased to find that there was some excellent work undertaken both in custody and in the community and, for a small number of children, this hard work had contributed to successful resettlement back into the community and no further offences.

In order to drive improvements, inspectors made recommendations to the Ministry of Justice, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) and National Offender Management Service (NOMS), youth custodial establishments and healthcare commissioners and providers. The YJB and NOMS should deliver, evaluate and embed the proposed changes to resettlement provision under Transforming Youth Custody through joint work with young offender institutions, secure training centres and youth offending teams.

Alan MacDonald, on behalf of all chief inspectors, said:

“In England and Wales, over two-thirds of children reoffended within 12 months of release from secure institutions. Of the 29 children we tracked from custody into the community, only one-quarter fully complied with their supervision. These are shocking statistics. We have known for at least a decade what helps children leaving custody to stop offending. Too few of these children are being provided with what they need to lead crime-free lives.

“Work to help children resettle does not start early enough. The most important resettlement issues are suitable accommodation and education, training and/or employment. Children and their parents/carers should be well prepared for release and all agencies ready to support a constructive release plan. Some children did not know where they would be living until a few days before their release and, because of this the rest of the provision could not follow. It is possible for the lives of many children who have offended to be turned around. It will need all the component parts to work to ensure children get the right support they need to stop offending and that, importantly as a result, there are fewer victims of crime.”



Notes to Editors:

  1. A copy of this report can be found on the Criminal Justice Joint Inspectorate website at from 12 March 2015.
  2. The Government published Transforming Youth Custody in January 2014 which includes plans for the improvement of resettlement work with children. The Youth Justice Board and the National Offender Management Service are tasked with taking these plans forward. The response to the Government’s consultation can be found here (PDF, 311.35 kB).
  3. HMI Probation is an independent inspectorate, sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, and reporting directly to the Secretary of State on 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.

Please contact Jane Parsons in HM Inspectorate of Probation Press Office on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452 if you would like more information.