Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMI Probation) have investigated and reported on the general quality of Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) across England and Wales for the year 2022.
The inspection of youth offending services presented in the Youth Annual Report involves judging specific aspects of each service and giving an overall rating. The services are rated on a four-point scale: ‘Outstanding’, ‘Good’, ‘Requires improvement’ and ‘Inadequate’.
Overall, the report found ‘strong’ youth justice services across England and Wales. In 2022, 70% of services were found to be ‘Outstanding’ (slightly fewer than in 2021) and, for the second year in a row, no services were rated ‘Inadequate’. The most frequent recommendation in 2022 involved case practice with children, specifically regarding their well-being and the risk of harm they present to others.
Concern also remains around education, training and employment (ETE). The report found significant gaps in provision and major barriers to children’s participation, and overall ETE opportunities remain variable and inconsistent.
More positively, there have been fewer recommendations in relation to children and parents participation. This reflects a targeted shift towards a child-first focus which focuses primarily on the needs and welfare of the child. Further, the report found a diminishing number of children are processed through formal criminal justice processes (courts, police cautions etc.). Instead, a higher proportion of children are being dealt with through out-of-court disposals.
This report demonstrates that the hard work in implementing the ‘Child First’ agenda is paying off and real improvements are happening within Youth Justice Services nationwide.
This is the final report which will be done under Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell, who leaves the post this autumn.
Mia Naylor, Paralegal, Youth Justice Legal Centre