Conwy and Denbighshire Youth Justice Service ‘Requires improvement’

Conwy & Denbighshire Youth Justice Service (YJS) has received an overall rating of ‘Requires improvement’ following an inspection led by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation, with colleagues from Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW), Estyn, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) and His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

Chief Inspector of Probation, Martin Jones CBE said: “This inspection took place during a time of significant change and challenge for Conwy and Denbighshire YJS. Despite the best efforts from YJS management and staff to support the children in their care, the considerable staff shortages and strategic challenges faced has resulted in a service that falls short of the standard needed to consistently promote desistance and reduce reoffending.”

This inspection found the strategic leadership and governance of the service in need of considerable development, with a management board that – despite efforts to refocus and refresh – is not yet functioning at an effective level. It highlighted the absence of vital and sufficiently senior members of the board, with a need for many board members to acquire a greater understanding of youth justice work and the role and function of the service.

Inspectors found insufficient partnership services available in a number of key areas including health, education and children’s safety and wellbeing. There had been a reduction of the number of specialist workers in the service, as a result of decisions to provide services for YJS children using universal pathways. They found waiting lists were lengthy for many services and this complex cohort of children were not sufficiently prioritised, including those who pose a risk to other people.

Implementation and delivery for out-of-court disposals was the YJS’s strongest area of work.  Practitioners have adapted their ways of working to give children the best possible outcomes in the absence of effective partnership services. It is to their credit, that case managers used their own resources and experience to support emotional and mental health and deliver substance misuse interventions. However, had specialist statutory partners been present within the service, children could have accessed the services quicker, more effectively and with greater positive impact.

Mr Jones added: “Finding some positive examples of work being delivered to children is testament to the commitment and resilience of the YJS’ leadership team and staff. We hope our feedback and recommendations will support the service in holding partnerships to account.”


 Notes to editor

 This service works with children aged 10 to 17. The YJS supervise children with complex needs and some in the care of the local authority.

  1. The Inspectorate uses a four-point scale: ‘Outstanding’, ‘Good’, ‘Requires improvement’ and ‘Inadequate’, rating specific aspects of each service and giving an overall rating.
  2. 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 sentences (out-of-court disposals).
  3. The report is available on the HM Inspectorate of Probation website on 08 May 2024 at 00.01.
  4. HM Inspectorate of Probation is the independent inspector of youth justice and probation services across England and Wales.
  5. Fieldwork for this inspection took place in January 2024.
  6. For media enquiries, please contact Head of Communications (E-mail address)