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Youth offending work in Newham needs to improve

PUBLISHED: 08:00 08 March 2012

Work carried out by Newham’s youth offending team to minimise the risk of serious harm to the public posed by young offenders has been criticised by inspectors.

“Drastic improvement” is needed to ensure young ex-convicts show up to sessions or start work as part of their sentences, according to a report compiled by the Criminal Justice Joint Inspection team.

Inspectors also found more than half of the young people using the system had been sentenced for violent offences, including involvement in organised crime and gangs.

The findings, labelled disappointing in the report, mean Newham scored below the national average with its work to protect the public, the young person and in reducing the likelihood of re-offending.

However, the borough’s youth offending team, run by Newham Council, was placed under new management just two months before the inspection was carried out.

“The risk of serious harm assessment was of insufficient quality in 38 per cent of cases. Too often, previous relevant behaviour and the risk to victims were not fully considered,” the report outlined.

“There was an over-reliance on current convictions, which did not give a full picture of the child or young person’s potential to cause serious harm.

“Some 43 per cent had not been completed on time.”

Workers were praised by inspectors for their enthusiasm and commitment, but the report was less complimentary about their bosses.

“Too many poor quality assessments and plans had been produced, some countersigned by managers,” inspectors added.

“Where managers had identified shortcomings they did not then ensure that these were addressed sufficiently well or in a timely manner.”

A spokesman for Newham Council said dealing with youth offending was a priority for them and they were taking the recommendations seriously.

He said: “We are changing the way our services are delivered and the inspectors were encouraged that new managers will provide consistent oversight of practice and that we have a committed and enthusiastic group of staff keen to learn from the findings.

“Our prospects for improvement are good and we want to deliver consistent good practice across the service.”


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