Barking and Dagenham youth offending service blasted by Havering councillor

Barking Town Hall

Barking Town Hall - Credit: Archant

A longstanding member of a neighbouring council claims Barking and Dagenham has serious questions to answer over the state of its youth offending services.

Cllr Keith Darvill

Cllr Keith Darvill - Credit: Archant

Havering Council outsourced its own department to the borough last year in a bid to cut costs and “protect the future of youth” in both areas.

But at a cabinet meeting last month, that council’s chief education officer Joy Hollister said Havering was “investigating concerns” raised by someone in the scheme. “We are certainly aware of some issues we need to address,” she said.

Although a recent report claimed Barking and Dagenham Council’s handling of the service was “outstanding”, its record has now been called into question by Havering councillor Keith Darvill.

Government guidelines state youth offenders confessing guilt should be seen by a three-member panel of trained experts to help them make the steps away from any re-offending – something the former Upminster MP alleges Barking and Dagenham is not sticking to.

“I was keen for the service to return to Havering because it has declined during its time under Barking and Dagenham,” he told the Post.

“My information is that offenders weren’t always seen by three panel members, sometimes just two, and they were not always properly trained. Although the report was glowing, an investigations is underway because I think officers used an Ofsted-style report about one section of the service to give the impression all the service had been checked.”

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Although the partnership was intended to save both boroughs money, Havering now estimates it will actually save £100,000 in 2015/16 by taking back its service.

A spokesman for Barking and Dagenham Council said: “Savings have been made for Havering and Havering youth offending service has moved from one of the lowest-rated in London to being rated as outstanding under the leadership of Barking and Dagenham.

“We are immensely proud of what we have achieved in Havering and we leave a very strong and dedicated staff team in place.

“It is unfortunate there is now a need to separate but this is the result of boroughs having to continually look to make savings on an ongoing basis.”

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