Youth Offending Service excels at keeping public protected

A report examining youth offending work in Kingston has found that its team keeps the public safer than any other area in London.

The report, the result of an inspection that was carried out in September, judged the Kingston Youth Offending Service (YOS) on two main aspects of youth offending work, ‘Risk of Harm to others’ and ‘Safeguarding’, assessing how often the work was done to a sufficiently high quality.

‘Risk of Harm to others’ refers to the protection of the public, while ‘Safeguarding’ refers to the protection of the young person.

The findings showed that work on the ‘Risk of Harm to others’ was done well enough 75% of the time, a score substantially higher than any of the nine London boroughs assessed so far, with Enfield’s score of 66% the closest.

The score was also an impressive 12% higher than the national average and means minimum improvement is required.

The ‘Safeguarding’ work was done well enough a respectable 71% of the time, compared to the national average of 68%, and superior to all except two of the London boroughs assessed so far. A moderate need for improvement is required.

Duncan Clark, Director of Learning and Children’s Services at Kingston Council, said: “I am extremely pleased with the YOS inspection and report, which demonstrates Kingston’s strong position to achieve and sustain improved outcomes for children and young people.”

He praised the YOS team, mentioning that John Drew, Chief Executive of the Youth Justice Board, had written to congratulate them on the inspection result, particularly with respect to the ‘Risk of Harm’ score.

The inspection was carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation as part of the Core Case Inspections of Youth Offending Work (CCI). The programme entails visits to all Youth Offending Services in England and Wales to assess the quality of the service being provided.

Liz Calderback, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Probation, described the findings as “very encouraging” and commended the team, saying “we found a committed staff roup who engaged positively with young people”.

When asked how the YOS has affected his life, a young offender said: “My whole mindset has changed. I spent a lot of time being rude to the police but with the YOS’s help now I understand that they have a job to do and I respect that.”

The Kingston Youth Offending Service, launched in April 2000, has a multi-agency approach that it believes is a key reason for its success, working closely with the police, schools, Health and Social Services and the Probation Service when dealing with young people involved in crime.

Duncan Clark said: “As a small borough it is imperative that partners work closely with each other to achieve high levels of service integration. Partnership working is a considerable strength in Kingston, allowing young people to experience services in a more holistic manner as well as increasing both public safety and its perception.”

Significant advances have been made to promote reparation, with high profile activity getting young offenders to remove graffiti, take part in bus clean up days and engage in productive work such as gardening.

The service also encourages some young offenders to participate in a restorative conference with the victim while, in a particularly sensitive area of work that the YOS is seeking to develop, the victim may be asked for their views on the crime and how they wish to see the matter resolved.

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