Wandsworth Youth Offending Team – strong overall but urged, with partners, to develop a more consistent approach to knife crime

Wandsworth Youth Offending Team (YOT) was assessed by probation inspectors as ‘Good’ overall, the second-highest rating, with some outstanding child-focused work in a complex and challenging inner London borough.

However, the YOT, with partners including the police and the local authority, was urged to develop a more consistent approach to knife crime in borough schools. Inspectors found police are not consistently called to every incident, and there are different approaches depending on which school a child attends: some will report a child bringing a knife into school and some will not.

Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector Probation, added: “The inspection found that interventions are being delivered to address knife crime in the borough. The partnership needs to engage with schools, however, to understand the different responses to dealing with children carrying knives on school premises, and avoid children entering the youth justice system unnecessarily.”

Among positive aspects of the YOT’s work, inspectors found there was a focus on developing effective working relationships with children and young people, and planning for interventions to support them took into consideration their motivation and levels of engagement with the YOT. There was also good health provision for the young people.

Wandsworth, a borough with a high proportion of young people, has gang problems and territorial disputes across the borough. Dame Glenys said: “We are pleased the YOT prioritises the safety of children and young people in the delivery of its work. For example, staff consider the safety implications when arranging appointments, and duplicate provision in different areas to ensure all children and young people can access appropriate services.”

Inspectors, however, also found an imbalance between the use of cautions – a criminal justice system sanction for minor offences – and other disposals which avoided court and entry in the criminal justice system.

The report noted: “The process for out-of-court disposals is police-led and does not offer the opportunity for joint decision-making at the beginning of the process. The police deliver few community resolutions, which results in children and young people receiving a more punitive outcome.”

Dame Glenys said: “The partnership needs to review its process for out-of-court disposals, to make sure that all outcomes, including community resolutions, are available for children and young people.” However, she added, YOT work on court-imposed disposals was good and where the YOT was involved in out of court disposals, its work was outstanding.

Overall, Dame Glenys said:

“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 Wandsworth YOT to build on its strengths and focus on areas for improvement.”

  • Ends –

Notes to editors:

  1. The report is available at justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation on 14 March 2019.
  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. In September 2018, the Wandsworth YOT Management Board merged with the Community Safety Partnership Board to become the Community Safety Partnership and YOT Board (CSPYOTB) and is now chaired by the Chief Executive. The Board includes all statutory partners and some non-statutory partners, for example the Chair of the youth court bench, the Fire Service and a representative from housing. Members of the Board hold strategic positions in their own organisations and this is seen as a way of raising the profile of the YOT across the partnership. The Board membership and terms of reference are reviewed annually. The YOT is part of the early help division within the children’s services department of the council, reflecting the corporate commitment to early intervention and prevention.
  4. The London Borough of Wandsworth is the biggest inner-London borough and is made up of 20 wards. Approximately 60,000 children and young people under the age of 18 years live there (19 per cent of the total population in the area), and 22 per cent of these children are living in poverty. Wandsworth is a culturally diverse area. Children and young people from minority ethnic groups account for just under half of all children living in the area, and the proportion of children and young people with English as an additional language in primary schools is 46 per cent (the national average is 19 per cent) and in secondary schools is 45 per cent (the national average is 15 per cent).
  5. HM Inspectorate of Probation inspected against new standards and all services are given one of four ratings: outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate.
  6. Fieldwork for the Wandsworth YOT inspection began in December 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 (E-mail address)