The East Riding Youth Offending Service has become the first in England and Wales to score full marks in an official inspection.
HM Inspectorate of Probation has given East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s service an overall ‘Outstanding’ rating. Inspectors looked at 12 aspects of the service’s work and – for the first time – awarded the top rating for all areas.
Kevin Hall, director of children, families and schools at East Riding of Yorkshire Council and chairman of the Youth Board, said: “I’m delighted the inspectors acknowledged the excellent work of the Youth Offending Service, working in partnership with colleagues from the police, the court, probation, health services, the voluntary sector and other council services.
“The inspection highlighted the positive changes young people have made in their lives as a result of their involvement with these skilled and innovative practitioners.”
Today’s report represents a significant achievement for the service. Inspectors last visited East Riding in 2010 and 2013 and found the quality of work needed to improve.
Chief Inspector of Probation Dame Glenys Stacey said: “East Riding YOS has made steady and continuous progress since our previous inspections. Leaders have set out a clear vision for the service and have made improvements a top priority.
“Staff at the organisation are skilled, impressive and highly motivated. They take the time to gain a thorough understanding of the children and young people that they work with, and are committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for them.
“Everybody at East Riding YOS should be justly proud of their hard work and commitment. They deserve to be congratulated for this wonderful achievement.”
The service works with 10-to-18-year-olds who have either received a court sentence or who are being dealt with outside the court system. Inspectors have praised the quality of the service’s work with both groups.
The inspectors said staff build fruitful relationships with children, young people, parents and carers, and partner services, and noted: “It is evident that children and young people are listened to and their goals and aspirations are taken seriously and acted upon.”
This view was backed up by one young person who received a court sentence. He said staff “always treat me with respect. [They] help me to look forward to my future. Their guidance is invaluable”.
Inspectors found the East Riding YOS struck a good balance between preventing offending behaviour and its statutory work in delivering court and out-of-court orders.
The team has partnered with the police to develop an early intervention project. This sees officers working in the community with children, young people and families that have been identified as at risk of offending.
Restorative justice is a strong feature at the YOS. One example involved a young person who had committed robbery. Staff supported the young person to complete sessions about knife crime, and access help with mental health and substance issues, before making amends with the elderly victim.
Inspectors found the YOS’s handling of out-of-court cases was “exemplary” and included excellent work to incorporate the needs and wishes of victims.
The panel that decides how to handle these cases includes representatives from a wide range of local services and a volunteer from the local community. This ensures all relevant information about the child or young person is considered before a decision is made.
Dame Glenys said: “East Riding YOS has a very positive attitude towards learning and development. Leaders and staff have been proactive in learning from research and evidence, and the Inspectorate’s thematic reports on youth offending matters.
“They have also visited other youth offending services to find out more about what works for them.
“I hope other youth offending teams will now look and learn from the good practice in this report.”