Bradford youth offending team - must improve poor performance

A West Yorkshire organisation that works with troubled children and young people is performing poorly, according to inspectors.

HM Inspectorate of Probation led a routine inspection of Bradford Youth Offending Team (YOT). Inspectors – who were joined by colleagues from the police and health and social care inspectorates – looked at 12 aspects of the team’s work.

The Inspectorate has given Bradford YOT a ‘Requires improvement’ rating – it’s second-lowest mark.

Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said: “We had a number of serious concerns about this YOT, with performance on eight of our twelve quality standards judged to be ‘Inadequate’ and the service only rescued from an overall ‘Inadequate’ rating by some better-quality work with out-of-court disposal cases.

“Bradford YOT has been through a period of instability, particularly among its senior ranks. There has been an absence of strategic leadership, which has affected the team’s ability to work effectively with children and young people who have offended or who are at risk of offending.”

Inspectors were particularly concerned about the YOT’s ability to manage risks.

Mr Russell said: “Bradford YOT has a committed and motivated workforce, but we found staff did not have the knowledge to manage risks safely. Some children and young people known to the YOT could pose a risk to other people; some will also face risks to their own safety and wellbeing.

“Our inspection found staff were not proficient at recording risks on the system or dealing with issues such as child sexual exploitation or safeguarding. Planning to keep other people safe was one of the weakest areas of practice, done poorly in two-thirds of inspected cases. The risk of harm assessment was completed late in nearly half of inspected cases – sometimes several months after it should have been done.”

In one inspected case, inspectors found potential gang-related activity was not recorded on a young person’s file. A gang subsequently assaulted the young person and a family member, leading to an armed response from the police. Following this incident, staff did not review the initial assessment or seek further details from children’s social services or the police.

Mr Russell added: “This was a serious incident and we would have expected to see a more robust response from the YOT to ensure the young person’s safety. Bradford YOT needs to improve the way staff identify and mitigate risks urgently.”

Inspectors also found problems at the top of the organisation. The Management Board drives the YOT’s work and should include representatives from the local authority, police, probation service, children’s social care and other local agencies.

Mr Russell said: “The Board is supposed to bring together all the agencies that can help children and young people to live safe and crime-free lives. In practice, members are frequently missing – for example, the council has not fielded a representative from its education department for more than a year. Those who do attend are not always clear on their role or are not sufficiently senior to make key decisions.

“The Board is failing to scrutinise the YOT’s work and drive improvements. For example, the YOT has not analysed data to understand the collective needs of its children and young people. As this profile is missing, it is difficult to ascertain if the YOT is providing the right types of support and services.”

Inspectors also found a lack of information sharing with the police. In the three months prior to the inspection, 168 children and young people were given community resolutions by the police for low-level offending. In nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of cases, the YOT was not notified, so could not help those children and young people to move away from further offending.

Mr Russell concluded: “There is a new senior management team in place, and they know the challenges faced by the YOT, and are well placed and committed to address the issues identified. The staff have expressed optimism about the new leadership and its ability to make necessary improvements.

“Our report includes seven recommendations to improve safety, leadership, information sharing, and work with the police. We urge Bradford YOT to act on our recommendations to ensure vulnerable children and young people in the city get the support they need.”



Notes to editor

  1. The report is available at on 16 January 2020 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 and the Care Quality Commission.
  4. Youth Offending Teams supervise 10 to 17-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.
  5. Fieldwork for this inspection took place in September and October 2019.
  6. For media enquiries, please contact Head of Communications Catherine Chan on 07889 405930 or (E-mail address)