Wakefield Youth Justice Service ‘Requires improvement’

Wakefield Youth Justice Service (YJS) has received an overall rating of ‘Requires improvement’ following an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation.

Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said: “Wakefield YJS is committed but inconsistent, and their approach to identifying and addressing risk of harm to children and others insufficient. They must improve the quality of service delivery and appropriately identify areas of concern for each child under their supervision. Whilst we found some good practice, and an eagerness to develop, this was outweighed by the improvements required.”

Wakefield YJS work with children aged 10 to 17. The majority of children under their supervision are aged 15 to 17 (63%), male (79%) and white (92%). The YJS supervise children with complex needs and some in the care of the local authority (Looked After Children).

The inspection looked at standards of organisational delivery (leadership, staffing and facilities), their management of children serving court sentences (court disposals) and children serving cautions or community resolutions (out-of-court disposals). We also inspected the quality of resettlement policy and provision, which was separately rated as ‘Good’.

With the exception of work to support desistance (stopping the previous pattern of offending) – which was of a ‘Good’ standard – inspectors found evidence that the YJS had inadequately assessed risks and failed to identify clear signs of concern. Overall, this is having a detrimental impact on the quality of planning, implementation and delivery, and review of the service for each child – this is for both court and out-of-court disposals.

Mr Russell continued: “We found evidence that the management board and the YJS in Wakefield have a vision for the service, but this is not currently being translated into effective service delivery. Their focus must be on keeping these children safe, as well as better managing the risk they may pose to others.”

The inspection did find that children at Wakefield YJS have access to personalised, good-quality facilities and services – boosted by positive partnership working – and effective arrangements for education, training and opportunities. Children also have access to health support, speech and language therapy and innovative services such as a music therapist.

Mr Russell explains: “Wakefield YJS have a clear understanding of the educational needs of each child under their supervision. The use of a music therapist is an asset – there is clear evidence of their success in engaging with children in a meaningful way and helping a child to better understand their situation and why they should not reoffend.”

This inspection made nine recommendations, including improving the quality of assessment for both court and out-of-court disposals with a specific focus on keeping children safe and managing the risks to others; ensure the needs of victims are considered by case managers, and develop clearer joint working arrangements between the YJS and Wakefield Children’s Social Care. This is to ensure  practitioners from both services are aware of their respective roles and responsibilities, and effective joint working becomes evident.


Notes to editor

  1. The report is available at justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation on 14 December 2021 00.01.
  2. HM Inspectorate of Probation is the independent inspector of youth offending and probation services across England and Wales.
  3. The Inspectorate uses a four-point scale: ‘Outstanding’, ‘Good’, ‘Requires improvement’ and ‘Inadequate’. The Inspectorate rates specific aspects of each service and also gives an overall rating.
  4. Fieldwork for this inspection took place in September 2021.
  5. For media enquiries, please contact Corporate Communications Manager Diane Bramall 07929 790 564 or media@hmiprobation.gov.uk (E-mail address)