OLDHAM YJS Inspection

OLDHAM YOUTH JUSTICE SERVICE – SOME ‘IMPRESSIVE’ WORK TO SUPPORT YOUNG PEOPLE TO MOVE AWAY FROM FURTHER OFFENDING

Oldham Youth Justice Service is delivering some “impressive” work and “puts children and young people at the heart of everything they do”, according to a report published today.

HM Inspectorate of Probation inspects probation and youth offending services across England and Wales. Inspectors gave the service an overall rating of ‘Good’ – it’s second-highest rating.

Oldham Youth Justice Service supervise children and young people aged 10 to 18. Some are serving court sentences; others have not been charged for their offending behaviour and are being dealt with outside the court system.

Inspectors found staff at Oldham Youth Justice Service were “respected, skilled and highly motivated”. Staff had a deep understanding of the children and young people that they worked with, and involved them at every stage of the process.

Chief Inspector of Probation Dame Glenys Stacey said: “Many aspects of Oldham Youth Justice Service are impressive. We looked at 12 aspects of their work and they achieved the highest rating – ‘Outstanding’ – in four categories.

“Their work to support young people to move away from further offending was very strong. Staff put a lot of emphasis into building relationships and engaging with young people, for example in developing Oldham’s violent youth crime strategy.

“This approach is consistent with the ethos throughout the service – children and young people are at the heart of everything they do. There is a recognition that long-term desistance from offending is more likely to be achieved if children and young people’s wider needs are met.”

Oldham is the only youth offending service in England and Wales to be contracted out to a charitable trust. The inspection found this arrangement worked well.

Inspectors also found positive work in relation to black and minority ethnic (BME) communities. Staff understand the specific needs of these children and young people, and a member of staff is working to build community understanding and awareness. The Management Board has also recognised a disproportionately high number of children from BME backgrounds are given custodial sentences. The service is now working with partners to find out why this is the case.

The report includes a positive example of restorative justice involving a group of young people who had caused criminal damage to a tram. The young people and their parents met with the tram owners, and were shocked to hear about the impact of their behaviour.

The young people agreed to make amends by creating safety posters to highlight the dangers of their behaviour and helped to clean a tram at the depot. One parent said the experience had been an “eye-opener” for her son and he now walked away from uncomfortable situations.

Inspectors identified five areas for improvement. This includes ensuring the Management Board becomes more effective in holding the service to account for its performance.

Oldham Youth Justice Service should also look at how it handles cases that are dealt with out of court. More could be done to ensure the risks posed to and by children and young people are taken into account, and more attention should be given to the concerns of victims.

The full report can be found here.


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