Caring for offenders is improved

COUNCIL chiefs have welcomed the results of an inspection that found a youth offending service has improved after being slammed by a Government watchdog.

The latest inspection report of youth offending work by Hartlepool Borough Council has found that the service has improved after being subject to Government scorn in its previous study.

The service was inspected by the Government’s Criminal Justice Joint Inspection watchdog and the results released last January said it was lacking in three areas.

The body found that work on safeguarding, which aims to protect youngsters, was done well enough on just 41 per cent of occasions; the public protection aspect, which is work to keep to a minimum each individual’s risk of harm to others, was done well enough 52 per cent of the time and the work to make each individual less likely to re-offend was done well enough 53 per cent of the time.

But the latest study found that the safeguarding aspects of the work was done well enough 68 per cent of the time; public protection was satisfactory 58 per cent of the time and the work to prevent re-offending was acceptable 70 per cent of the time.

Julie Fox, assistant chief inspector, said: “The previous inspection highlighted that assessments and planning for vulnerability and safeguarding needed to be improved. We are pleased to note that this has happened.

“Joint work with children’s social care services was evident in many more cases, as was a clearer understanding of roles and responsibilities between YOS staff and social workers.

“Assessments and plans have been produced more frequently, but further work is now needed to improve the quality of plans.

“Overall, we consider this an encouraging set of findings. A commitment from the senior management team after the last inspection has resulted in improvements.

“We anticipate they will continue to drive and support the actions required to ensure further improvements in the quality of work undertaken with children and young people.”

Councillor Cath Hill, the council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: “I am delighted with the report which demonstrates that there have been significant improvements since the last inspection.

“The scores for Hartlepool in the three key areas of inspection have risen substantially and I’d like to pay tribute to everyone who has contributed to this success.

“While we are very pleased with the report, we will not rest on our laurels and will strive to improve the service even further in the future.”