Warwickshire YJS - good overall with some outstanding work but some aspects requiring improvement

Warwickshire Youth Justice Service (YJS) was assessed by HM Inspectorate of Probation as ‘Good’ overall, its second highest rating, with strong leadership and a wide range of services to support young people to avoid reoffending.

Some of the work was assessed as outstanding, the highest grade, particularly its supervision of court orders. Its work with out-of-court disposals was good overall but the YJS was urged to strengthen joint decision-making with police, leading to greater consistency in the use of this type of disposal.

Warwickshire YJS, the local name for the Youth Offending Service, covers an area with a mix of market towns and larger urban areas. Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, said the Warwickshire management board “provides a strategic vision for the service and ensures that partnership working is good.

“There is a wide range of resources available to meet the needs of children and their families. Staff consider the diverse needs of the child or young person, try to address barriers to motivation and demonstrate good engagement skills.”

Inspectors noted as a strength that the YJS adopted a child-centred approach to assessment and support individuals, taking into account childhood and adolescent trauma. Staff were trained in, and aware of, the risks to young people of ‘County Lines’ criminality.

Inspectors recommended that some aspects of the YJS could be strengthened further. It had a comprehensive approach to analysing information about factors related to desistance (the cessation of offending or other antisocial behaviour), safety and wellbeing, and risk of harm. It was not clear, however, that the YJS used this intelligence to influence service delivery.

Despite the strength of data collection, inspectors found that the views of children and young people, their parents or carers and other stakeholders were not sought and analysed to drive improvement. Inspectors also advised that the YJS could do more to increase the number young people aged 16 and above in suitable education, training and employment.

Though supervision of out-of-court disposals was good overall, inspectors assessed joint working between the YJS and police as requiring improvement. Dame Glenys said: “The procedures for out-of-court disposals were confused and there was limited joint decision-making.”

Overall, Dame Glenys said:

“We have given Warwickshire YJS an overall rating of ‘Good’. Our inspection found that most areas of practice are good, with some aspects being outstanding and one area requiring improvement. The recommendations in this report have been designed to assist Warwickshire YJS to build on its strengths and focus on areas for improvement.”

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Notes to editors:

  1. The report is available at justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation at 00.01 on Friday 07 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. Warwickshire covers an area of 763 square miles and has a population of around 565,000 people, making up just over 230,000 households. The Youth Justice Service is managed as part of Warwickshire County Council. On 01 October 2018, as part of the council’s transformation programme, the service moved from the Communities Directorate to the People Directorate. Warwickshire is noted within the criminal justice sector for the two multi-agency justice centres at Leamington Spa and Nuneaton, out of which all the key criminal justice agencies work, including: Warwickshire Police, the National Probation Service, the Community Rehabilitation Company, Her Majesty’s Court Services, the Crown Prosecution Service, Victim and Witness Services and Youth Justice.
  4. This inspection is part of HMI Probation’s new programme of YOS inspections. Warwickshire 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.
  5. We inspected against new standards and all services are given one of four ratings: outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate.
  6. Fieldwork for the Warwickshire inspection took place in October 2018.
  7. For further information please contact John Steele, HMI Probation Chief Communications Officer, on 020 3334 0357 or 07880 787452, or at john.steele@justice.gov.uk