Youth Offending Service told to make improvements following inspection

Barking Town Hall. Pic: Ken Mears

Barking Town Hall. Pic: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Barking and Dagenham’s Youth Offending Service (YOS) faces challenges in delivering an effective service that stops young people from reoffending, an inspection has found.

The service, which deals with 10 to 18-year-olds who have been sentenced by a court or who have come to the attention of the police due to their behaviour, was given a rating of requires improvement - the second lowest - following a visit by probation inspectors.

The report found that although there were good links with social care and education providers, joint work to keep children safe was not sufficiently integrated.

A lack of understanding of the distinct roles of the YOS and social workers in responding to children who have experienced trauma was also hindering the work, inspectors found.

The report noted that Barking and Dagenham has the highest national rate of reported domestic violence and that “the local authority is concerned that this type of violence has become normalised, which is detrimental to children and young people who witness or live with it.”

Dame Glenys Stacey, chief inspector of probation, said: “Barking and Dagenham YOS faces several challenges in delivering effective services to children and young people who find it difficult to stop offending, are often vulnerable and can pose a risk to the public.

“We were struck by the problems faced when trying to manage children involved in ‘county lines’ at a local level.

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“This work was hampered by little oversight, coordination or support at a national level.”

The inspection also found that too many children and young people known to the service were not in suitable education, and that the YOS was struggling to maintain a stable and experienced staff team.

A Barking and Dagenham Council spokesman said: “Since the inspection, we have developed an improvement plan. The service now has in place a full complement of staff, including input from an education worker focusing specifically on ensuring young people receive their statutory education.

“We will continue to work with our partners on the plan which will address the recommendations contained in the report and some changes have already been made.

“Added to this is work outside the improvement plan which includes a serious youth violence summit we are hosting in the new year to bring partners together to collectively tackle an issue we, like the rest of London, are sadly now facing.”