Croydon youth offending service ‘Requires improvement’

Croydon’s children’s social care department needs to provide better support to the borough’s partnership that works with troubled children and young people, according to inspectors.

HM Inspectorate of Probation led an inspection of Croydon Youth Offending Service (YOS), accompanied by colleagues from the police, education and health and social care inspectorates. Inspectors looked at 12 aspects of the YOS’s work and has given an overall ‘Requires improvement’ rating.

Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said: “Croydon is the largest youth offending service in London with many challenges to deal with. At the time of the inspection, the YOS supervised more than 200 children in custody or in the community.

“We found committed managers and staff at the YOS. They understand the children and young people known to the service, and work in a flexible way to meet their needs. The YOS offers a wide range of interventions to reduce reoffending, including effective links with schools, health providers and community organisations.”

The YOS is run as a partnership with representatives from the local authority, police, probation services, health authorities and other local organisations. Staff work with 10 to 17-year-olds who have offended or who are at risk of offending.

The inspection found joint work between the YOS and Croydon’s children’s social care department did not always protect children and the public effectively.

Mr Russell said: “At its best, joint work provides children with an effective safety net, with professionals taking timely actions to mitigate the identified risks to children. In other cases, we found that inadequate practice in the children’s social care department left the YOS in a difficult position in trying to keep children and the public safe, with the YOS having to manage these risk by themselves.”

Inspectors found improvements are being put in place, but they have not yet led to better services.

The inspection found the YOS worked well with partners to try to keep children, young people and the public safe from serious youth violence and the effects of gang violence.

Two members of staff lead this work and are in regular contact with the police’s gangs unit, mapping criminal activity across the town and sharing intelligence. A mentoring scheme is available to support young people to leave gangs. The YOS has reported that the rates of knife crime and serious youth violence are decreasing as a result of these measures.

Inspectors found more could be done to ensure young people are in education, employment or training.

Mr Russell said: “A third of young people known to the YOS are not in post-16 education, employment or training. This is a much higher percentage than in the general population and needs to be addressed.

“Our inspectors have made four recommendations, including to develop learning programmes to improve opportunities for young people.

“We are pleased that the new Chair of the YOS’s Management Board has a clear understanding and commitment to rectifying the issues that we have identified in this inspection.”


Notes to editor
1. The report is available at on 17 December 2019 00.01.
2. HM Inspectorate of Probation is the independent inspector of youth offending and probation services across England and Wales.
3. The Inspectorate was joined by colleagues from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, the Care Quality Commission, and inspectors experienced in further education and skills, and social care.
4. There were 89 knife crime offences on school premises in Croydon between 2015 and 2018. Source: Metropolitan Police (March 2019).
5. Fieldwork for this inspection took place in July 2019.
6. For media enquiries, please contact Head of Communications Catherine Chan on 07889 405930 or (E-mail address)