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Praise for Waltham Forest’s Youth Offending Service

Efforts to support young offenders in Waltham Forest to help them secure brighter, crime-free futures have been praised by the UK’s probation service watchdog.

Waltham Forest Council’s Youth Offending Service (YOS) was assessed by HM Inspectorate of Probation earlier this year – and its subsequent report, published last month, highlighted several areas of effective working.

The YOS, which currently works with 169 young offenders, is part of an ‘Early Help’ Division which brings together different voluntary and statutory partners to tackle youth offending in a comprehensive way within the borough.

During its assessment, inspectors noted that case managers worked hard to ensure they had a good understanding of the young person they were responsible for and were clear about the factors linked to their offending and aware of what could be done to reduce the likelihood of future offending.

The report stated: “There was strong evidence that case managers listened to children and young people and their parents/carers where appropriate. Good work was done to engage them in a constructive plan to complete their court orders and bring about change.”

Working with its local partners, the Council continues to tackle issues around gang affiliation and serious offending. The published reoffending rate for Waltham Forest stands at 41.1% - an improvement on the previous year by 4.9 percentage points and just below the London average of 41.4%.

Cllr Liaquat Ali MBE JP, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Cohesion, said: “We know there is still a lot of work to be done to try and bring down reoffending rates further but given the challenges we face in Waltham Forest, this report shows we are well on track.

“Our YOS does not always get the public pat on the back it deserves but it plays a crucial role protecting the public and preventing future offending. Knowing we are successfully supporting young offenders and effectively managing the risk of harm they present gives us a solid platform from which to target continued improvements.”

Cllr Mark Rusling, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Staff in the YOS do a fantastic job safeguarding vulnerable children and young people and supporting young offenders as they try to get their lives back on track.

“Working with young people who have diverse needs creates many challenging situations for the YOS but it is clear from this report that they are doing a good job of overcoming these difficulties and helping secure brighter futures for them.”

In the Inspectorate’s report, inspectors found “clear evidence of partners such as the police, children’s services, child and adolescent mental health services and education collaborating to deliver effective interventions”. They also acknowledged “very strong links between children’s services and the YOS, with both services working collaboratively to protect children and young people”.

The report stated the YOS was able to access a wide range of partnership services to help and support young people assessed as having complex needs and their families.

It also noted: “Case managers showed a good understanding of child sexual exploitation issues particularly in relation to girls with involvement in gangs. We saw good work to build girls’ self-esteem and confidence as part of a strategy to increase the protective factors in their lives.”

Areas in need of improvement were also identified in the report. More effective communication between the courts and the YOS was highlighted by the Inspectorate – and Council officers are already addressing this recommendation.

Click here for more information about the work of the YOS in Waltham Forest.

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