Youth offending teams need improvement

Writes Caroline Lovell

Youth offending teams are failing to distinguish sufficiently between the needs of vulnerable children and those convicted of violent offences, inspectors have found for the second year running.

A report on the 31 YOT inspections in England and Wales in 2006-7 said teams needed to take a more tailored approach to the needs of children and young people referred to them, repeating a key conclusion of inspectors’ 2005-6 annual report.

This year’s report, published by the probation inspectorate, also found that just 36% of initial supervision or training plans for young offenders, which are designed to address offending behaviour, were of adequate quality.

It also expressed concern that some YOTs did not have staff seconded from partner agencies, particularly from probation or children’s social care services, which it suggested contravened agencies’ statutory duties.

However, it also warned against a blurring of the boundaries between YOTs and local authority children’s services departments, which, it noted, were increasingly line managing youth offending teams. It suggested this could create a conflict of interest given YOTs’ duties to prevent offending, and thereby protect the public, as well as support the child.

Inspectors also found that YOTs and health professionals needed to improve information sharing with many cases being “hampered” by “separate file systems” and “restricted assess” even when children and young people had expressed a desire for information to be shared.

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Essential information on youth justice


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