Some good work in Cardiff but further improvement needed

Cardiff Youth Offending Service had experienced staff, but there was scope for improvement in its work with children and young people and leadership and oversight needed strengthening, said Glenys Stacey, Chief Inspector of Probation. Today she published the report of a recent joint inspection of the work of Cardiff Youth Offending Service (YOS).

This joint inspection of youth offending work in Cardiff 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 reoffending, protecting the public, protecting children and young people, ensuring the sentence is served, the effectiveness of governance and court work and reports.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • work to reduce reoffending was satisfactory. Inspectors found good quality work in custodial sentences and in managing the transfer of cases to adult probation services. There was little evidence of work with victims or restorative justice work;
  • work to protect the public and actual or potential victims was satisfactory. Reports to court gave clear explanations of the risk children and young people posed to others. Case managers had a good understanding of policies and procedures to manage risk of harm, but management oversight was insufficient;
  • work to protect children and reduce their vulnerability was satisfactory. Initial assessments of safeguarding and vulnerability were good, but the quality of planning to address vulnerability was insufficient. There was good liaison and joint working with Children’s Services but limited access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services;
  • work to ensure that the sentence was served was satisfactory. Staff had a good knowledge of, and interest in, the children and young people they worked with. In some cases restrictive requirements in criminal behaviour orders ran the risk of further criminalising the child; and
  • the management and delivery of interventions to reduce reoffending was satisfactory. Staff were delivering and planning services to a high standard. There was a well-established junior attendance centre fully integrated within the YOS. There was no overarching strategy or policy to determine the range and content of provision.

Inspectors were, however, concerned to find that:

  • the effectiveness of governance and partnership arrangements was unsatisfactory. A previous lack of effective leadership had weakened the YOS Management Board. There was minimal use of performance data and local information to target service delivery and improve outcomes.

Inspectors made recommendations to assist the YOS to make continuing improvements, including ensuring governance arrangements at all levels provide appropriate support, scrutiny and challenge to the work of the YOS and its outcomes.

Dame Glenys Stacey said:

“The Cardiff Youth Offending Service was staffed by an experienced and committed staff group and supported by some effective partnership working. We identified scope for improvement, however, in the quality of the work with the children and young people. There was also a need for stronger leadership and oversight at every level in the organisation. The YOS had a sizeable range of interventions, but there was insufficient strategic oversight and planning of service provision, and insufficient monitoring and evaluation of their effectiveness in achieving positive outcomes for the children and young people.”


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  1. The report is available at from 12 May 2016.
  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 Cardiff YOS primarily because their performance showed the lowest three-month and 12-month reconviction performance in Wales over a sustained period. The most recent published reoffending data showed a decrease from the previous year to 41.8% but was still higher than the latest average figure for England and Wales at 37.9%. Reoffending frequency rates and the use of custody were also decreasing but still above the England and Wales average.
  3. These inspections focus on issues not subject to other forms of external scrutiny: work to reduce 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. There are four ratings which can be given: good, satisfactory, unsatisfactory and poor.
  5. 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).
  6. For further information, please contact Jane Parsons at HM Inspectorate of Probation press office on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452