13 June 2012

Northamptonshire’s youth offending team (YOT) is in top 25 per cent of inspected YOTs for its performance in reducing reoffending among young people.

The team has been praised by government inspectors for its record in the sustained reduction in the frequency and seriousness of offending by young people. The inspection also found that the young people under supervision are robustly safeguarded with appropriate action taken to reduce the risk of harm to themselves or others.

During a rigorous inspection last month, inspectors from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation reviewed a sample of 62 youth offending cases, considering how safeguarding, risk of harm and the likelihood of reoffending are addressed in the county

Northamptonshire scored higher than the national average in each of the three categories, achieving a score of 80 per cent against a national average of 68per cent in safeguarding, 68per cent against a 62per cent national average in risk of harm to others and 76per cent against an average of 71per cent on preventing young people reoffending.

Inspectors specifically praised the service for the “many examples of good work being undertaken in Northamptonshire”. There was praise too for the excellence of the resources and the effective working between partner agencies.

Councillor Andrew Grant, Northamptonshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for education, learning and skills, said: “This report confirms that our approach to working with young people in the youth justice system does get results. We have a team working hard to support those young people and help them tackle and overcome the challenges that originally drew them towards crime and anti-social behaviour

“The YOT already holds the Investing in Volunteers Award, the national quality standard for good practice in volunteer management. The positive inspection is a testament to the work of the many organisations, local community groups and individuals who work with or alongside the YOT in supporting some of the most challenging and vulnerable young people in the county and equipping them with the skills and experience to turn their lives round.

“As with any inspection report, while we welcome the praise, we value to constructive criticism about the areas where we can make further improvements. Although these are relatively minor issues, we will address them immediately to ensure the service continues to deliver excellent results.”

The inspection highlighted a number of strengths, including:
* Sustainable outcomes, with an evidenced reduction in the frequency and seriousness of offending, as well as children under supervision being robustly safeguarded
* Good initial assessments leading to effective interventions intervention plans
* Robust multi agency working delivering very good outcomes in terms of reoffending – with education, social care training, substance misuse, mental health, police, probation, and Connexions teams all working very well
* Excellent risk and vulnerability planning with risks posed by young people well managed by the YOS partnership
* The active involvement of young people and their parents/carers in delivering plans
The areas for improvement highlighted by the report include the need for more consistency in case handling and reviews and for greater involvement of young people in the formal process of setting plans.

Hosted by Northamptonshire County Council, the Youth Offending Service is a partnership of local authorities, probation, health, police and training services and involves input from local community and voluntary groups. The aim of the service is to divert young people from criminal and anti-social behaviour and support them towards education or employment

The inspection report will be available at www.justice.gov.uk/about/hmi-probation.