Barking and Dagenham YOS - Strengths undermined by challenges to its work to prevent re-offending

Barking and Dagenham Youth Offending Service (YOS) was given a rating of ‘Requires improvement’, the second lowest, after probation inspectors identified some clear strengths but also challenges which affected its ability to stop children and young people re-offending.

Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, said the inspection in September 2018 found that staff, leaders and management board were committed to following an established plan of improvement.

“Nonetheless, Barking and Dagenham YOS faces several challenges in delivering effective services to children and young people who find it difficult to stop offending, are often vulnerable and can pose a risk to the public.

“The work of the YOS in managing children and young people who become involved in gangs and who have been exploited and trafficked into criminal activity is often complex. We were struck by the problems faced when trying to manage children involved in ‘county lines’ at a local level. This work was hampered by little oversight, coordination or support at a national level.”

Inspectors found good links with children’s social care and education providers, though joint work to keep children safe was not sufficiently integrated, and was hindered by a lack of understanding of the distinct roles of the YOS and social workers in responding to children and young people who have experienced trauma. Barking and Dagenham has the highest national rates of reported domestic violence, the report noted, “and the local authority is concerned that this type of violence has become normalised, which is detrimental to children and young people who witness or live with it.”

Dame Glenys added: “As we found in our report “The Work of Youth Offending Teams to Protect the Public”, understanding the effects of trauma and providing a tailored response is critical to effective offending behaviour work.”

The inspection found that too many children and young people known to the service were not in suitable education. Dame Glenys said: “There is strong evidence to show that education is a key factor in desistance from offending; the YOS recognises this, as it has a clear focus on desistance.” The YOS was recommended to ensure that all children and young people should receive their statutory entitlement to education.

The YOS was also found to be struggling to maintain a stable and experienced staff team, and a lot of management time had been focused on recruitment and induction. However, Dame Glenys said that staff skills and knowledge were developing and the management team had “developed a positive culture, where there is a strong belief in children and young people’s capacity to change and achieve good outcomes.”

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Notes to editors:

  1. The report is available at justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation at 00.01 on 20 December 2018.
  2. Youth Offending Teams (YOTs), which deliver youth offending services, supervise 10-18-year olds who have been sentenced by a court, or who have come to the attention of the police because of their offending behaviour but have not been charged and instead are dealt with out of court.
  3. This inspection is part of HMI Probation’s new programme of YOS inspections. Barking and Dagenham was inspected and rated across three broad areas: the arrangements for organisational delivery first, and then the quality of court disposals work, and out of court disposals work.
  4. We inspected against new standards and all services are given one of four ratings: outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate.
  5. Barking and Dagenham’s YOS is in the Children’s Services and Support department of the local authority, having moved from the Community Safety Partnership at the end of 2017. Barking and Dagenham is one of the fastest changing and growing communities in Britain. The population in 2016 was estimated to be 206,000, an increase of 26% over 15 years. It is expected there will be a further 10% increase by 2023. Barking and Dagenham has the 11th highest Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) score in England and the fourth highest in London for income deprivation affecting children. An increasingly diverse borough, 64% of the 0-19 population are from minority ethnic backgrounds compared to 52% in Barking and Dagenham overall.
  6. HM Inspectorate of Probation (2017) The Work of Youth Offending Teams to Protect the Public and be found here
  7. For further information please contact John Steele, HMI Probation Chief Communications Officer, on 020 3334 0357 or 07880 787452, or at steele@justice.gov.uk (E-mail address), or media@hmiprobation.gov.uk