Youth offender work criticised by inspectors

Coun Sarah Riding, cabinet member for children's services at Blackpool Council.

Coun Sarah Riding, cabinet member for children's services at Blackpool Council.

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Work to prevent young criminals in Blackpool re-offending has been criticised in an inspection.

HM Inspectorate of Probation has described several areas of the resort’s youth offending work as “unsatisfactory”.

And inspectors have imposed a number of recommendations to improve performance of the Youth Offending Team.

The report, released yesterday, said work to reduce the likelihood of re-offending was unsatisfactory due to “deficiencies in the assessment which looked at why the child or young person had committed the offence.”

Work to protect the public and actual or potential victims of crime was also deemed to be unsatisfactory, as was work to protect children and young people and overall governance of the service.

However, the report also said the team was good at ensuring the sentence was served by young offenders and engaging with children and young people. The team’s ability to ensure that young people complete their sentence was given a good 73 per cent by the report.

And inspectors commented that the YOT’s work to achieve an improvement in the rate of transfer of young people charged and detained in police custody into local authority accommodation provided “a better service than we had seen anywhere else in England and Wales.”

The team has previously been praised for improvements in 2009 and the council said it would work hard to improve further.

Liz Calderbank, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, said: “Progress has undoubtedly been made by Blackpool since our last inspection.

“However, for a Youth Offending Team to be fully effective, it must be supported by a management board that provides strategic leadership and direction for its managers.”

Coun Sarah Riding, cabinet member for children’s services at Blackpool Council, said: “We put a lot of work into reducing youth crime re-offending rates in the town, steering young people away from that type of lifestyle.

“This report shows that we are moving in the right direction with the youth offending team, but we won’t rest on our laurels and will continue to work on improving further. There are certain improvements that have been recommended and we will work to ensure that we meet those.”

Blackpool is only the third YOT in the country to be inspected under new, stricter standards.

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