Inspectors to probe agencies’ response to serious youth violence

Latest joint targeted area inspections (JTAIs) will examine how well youth offending teams, children's social care and partners are working to reduce risks and safeguard affected young people, including those subject to criminal exploitation

Teenager looking upset
Photo; motortion/Adobe Stock

Inspectors will probe agencies’ responses to serious youth violence in the latest series of joint targeted area inspections (JTAIs).

They will visit a sample of areas, from September, to examine how well youth offending teams, children’s social care, the police and other partners are working to reduce risks and safeguard affected children, including those who have carried out offences.

Agencies will be judged on how far they avoid unnecessarily criminalising children and provide young people and families with access to effective services, including therapies, and how well practitioners are trained in avoiding victim-blaming and recognising biases, among other things.

Inspectors will also examine how well agencies are tackling child criminal exploitation, given its interrelationship with youth violence.

Case audits

In each JTAI, inspectors will select five to seven children whose cases will then be audited by local multi-agency partnerships, with these audits then evaluated by inspectors, a process that will include interviews with practitioners involved.

The inspectors – from Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission and the police and probation inspectorates – will also base their findings on less in-depth analyses of larger samples of children, performance and management information and interviews with leaders.

What inspectors will assess

The 21 JTAI evaluation criteria include how well agencies:

  • Work together to identify children who are at risk of, or affected by, serious youth violence, including children who are exploited, intervene to reduce risk and support children and monitor the impact of interventions.
  • Provide children with a child-centred response, based on a good understanding of their experiences, background and identity.
  • Carry out assessments that show an understanding of the experiences, strengths and needs of children, and that are timely, include contributions from all relevant agencies and consider extra-familial harm, including risks online.
  • Provide children and their families with access to effective, well co-ordinated services, including therapeutic help, and, where children are both victims and harming others, address all their needs and reduce risks.
  • Ensure practitioners are well trained and supported, understand the impact of serious youth violence on children’s health and wellbeing and are aware of the importance of avoiding victim-blaming language and approaches.
  • Avoid unnecessarily criminalising children and understand the experiences that can contribute to children being violent and/or exploiting other children.
  • Effectively investigate all cases of serious youth violence and address the safeguarding needs of all children.

‘Devastating impact of youth violence’

Yvette Stanley

Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s national director for social care

“Serious youth violence has a devastating impact on the lives of children, families and communities,” said Ofsted’s national director for social care, Yvette Stanley. “The causes are complex and the JTAI framework is well placed to evaluate how different local agencies work together to tackle this critical issue.

“The response to serious youth violence is a developing area of multi-agency work and these inspections will explore the approaches local partnerships are taking. We want to identify practice that is making a real difference to children, and aspects of multi-agency work that need to improve, so that we can share this learning widely.”

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