Merton’s Youth Justice Service (YJS) and Youth Crime Prevention Executive Board received a well-deserved vote of confidence today when they were rated ‘Good’ overall with many ‘Outstanding’ areas in a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP).
Following fieldwork carried out in May 2021, which included a review of case files and phone and video conferencing with YJS staff, the service was found to be ‘Outstanding’ in seven out of 12 areas surveyed, with four deemed ‘Good’.
The HMIP reviewed three key frameworks of the partnership work and council’s service: the arrangements for organisational delivery of the service, which reflects how children are brought into the service; the quality of work which is done with children who are sentenced by the courts; and the overall quality of out-of-court disposal work, which measures how children and their families are helped after sentencing.
“There is a clear vision,” inspectors found, “which is well communicated across the partnership, and the YJS Board is well attended. Board members advocate for YJS children and have sufficient seniority to make decisions and commit resources from their own agencies.
“As a result, children can swiftly access a range of services and support, and there are good pathways for universal, targeted and specialist provision.”
The YJS workforce was praised for its wide “range of skills, knowledge and experience” that helped to “develop trusting and supportive relationships with children”. The report also noted that well-managed processes are used in a “reflective and considered” way during the management of complex cases.
Every aspect of court disposals – how children are treated when they are within that particular area of the justice system – was rated Outstanding, “supported by strong and purposeful management”. This included assessment; planning, implementation and review; and work associated with out-of-court disposals, all of which was commended as “strengths-based, which helped staff to develop effective working relationships with children and families.”
The report also found that after sentencing, “children and families continue[d] to receive support from the wider specialist, targeted and mainstream services,” and that this “work was delivering positive outcomes for children.”
Joint Deputy Leader Eleanor Stringer, Cabinet Member for Children and Education, said: “I’d like to thank the members of our Youth Justice Service and the Youth Crime Prevention Executive Board for the resounding endorsement HMIP has given them.
“The Youth Justice Service has delivered excellent services to Merton residents and have been highly praised for their empathetic treatment of vulnerable young people, as well as for their efforts in achieving positive outcomes for this cohort.
“They are a credit to the council and to the borough.”