Clear vision and strategy praised in report on Youth Offending Service

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Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Youth Offending Service, operated by Cornwall Council and partners such as the police, health and probation, has been rated as good, with outstanding features, in an inspection report published today.

The Youth Offending Service (YOS), supervises 10 to 18-year-olds who have offended or are at risk of offending. Inspectors highlighted that the “performance in key areas for first-time offences, reoffending and custody is significantly better than the England and Wales average”.

Since 2015 the youth offending service has been part of Gweres Tus Yowynk (GTY), the specialist adolescent service based in Cornwall Council Children’s and Family Services. This has supported an integrated and holistic response to service delivery and provides easy access to a range of interventions and support services that divert children from the youth justice system.

As a result, the Youth Offending Service has been able to help more children at any earlier stage, and more effectively, which has contributed to youth offending in Cornwall reducing significantly.

The service was assessed on 12 different areas of its work including organisational delivery of the service, quality of work done with children sentenced by the courts, and the quality of out-of-court work and was found to be good or outstanding in 10 out of 12 areas.

The inspection report highlighted “the Youth Offending Service (YOS) has a clear vision and strategy and the YOS Board has sufficient links to relevant networks.” The report also highlighted there is “good strategic and operational analysis of the YOS cohort” and this “has resulted in an enhanced case management approach for children with complex needs.”

Inspectors also praised the “skilled, stable and committed workforce” adding that “children receive a strong mix of targeted, specialist and mainstream services.”

Cornwall Council portfolio holder for Children, Public Health and Wellbeing, Sally Hawken, said: “This report highlights the good work being done here in Cornwall to support those who have been involved with or who are on edge of crime. The support we give to these vulnerable young people is vital and it is good to see the dedication of our team is recognised by the inspector.”

Inspectors said “the case management of court disposals was of a consistently high standard. Assessment was rated as outstanding based on a wide range of sources and detailed information. We saw good analysis of factors to support desistance, address safety and wellbeing, and understand the risk of harm to others. This led to strong implementation and delivery practice, with evidence of effective partnership working.”

Inspectors provided recommendations about how the Youth Offending Service can be strengthened further which are being addressed in an inspection action plan.

YOSs are 'statutory partnerships', made up of staff from local authorities' social care and education services, the police, the National Probation Service and local health services, under the guidance of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Youth Justice Board.

The chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Youth Justice Board, Ben Davies, said: “We are delighted that the inspection recognises the high standards of performance, practice and outcomes achieved by our Youth Offending Service and the very strong relationships our dedicated practitioners have with the children they work with. We treat children as children first and offenders second.

“Many children who get involved in offending have very difficult histories and complex needs, so we take a trauma informed approach which helps children recover from trauma and understand the impact of their behaviour upon others. This is best way of helping young people involved with the criminal justice system and keeping our communities safer.”

Ben added: “Learning from inspection reports like this is key to us continually improving the services we can provide for young people and we have already made good progress in addressing the recommendations, as set out in the report.”

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