Rochdale Youth Offending Team has denied misrepresenting data to inspectors by making last-minute changes to case files.
Rochdale Council’s children’s services director, Terry Piggott, rejected probation inspectorate allegations that at least one manager had instructed staff to prepare files for inspection before the visit.
In a report published today, the inspectorate slammed Rochdale Yot for “entirely unacceptable” behaviour after spot-checks of 40 cases revealed that half showed evidence of “late access” to the records.
Scores left unvalidated
Assessment dates were changed on six files to suggest that they had been done earlier,according to the inspectorate, which said this constituted misrepresentation “of the work actually done at the time”.
Although provisional scores showing poor performance in assessing risk and likelihood of reoffending were contained in the body of the inspection report, they were not included in the foreword.
Alan MacDonald, assistant chief inspector at HM Inspectorate of Probation, said this was a conscious decision because “we have insufficient confidence in the quality of the evidence in the case records of the work done”.
However, a council spokesperson insisted the inspectors’ suspicions were the result of a misunderstanding. The computer files were updated after assessments were carried out, but the dates supplied to inspectors were an accurate reflection of when the work was done, she said.
Piggott added: “There were certainly no instances where anyone tried to pretend something was done when it was not.
“The inspection focused heavily on record-keeping rather than the quality of much of the face-to-face work done by the staff, and we would welcome a re-inspection.”
The report said “drastic improvement” was required in improving outcomes for young offenders regarding risk of harm to others, likelihood of reoffending and safeguarding, while “substantial improvement” was needed to protect the public by minimising the risk of harm to others.
It made five recommendations regarding the quality of assessments and accuracy of case recording, including completing “timely” assessments at the start of each case, “with the date that staff actually did the assessment, not with the date on which they would like to have done it”.
Ann Tipton, head of service for learners and young people at the council, said steps had been put in place to ensure that all data were recorded electronically as well as on paper.