Bexley youth offending team criticised by Inspectorate of Probation

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A report into the ­borough’s youth offending team has criticised the way it ­assesses minimising the risk of harm to residents.

The inspection of youth ­offending work in Bexley carried out by the Inspectorate of Probation concluded that substantial improvement was required in protecting the public from children and young offenders.

It noted many examples of “concerning” behaviour by children and young people, such as their involvement with weapons or drugs, which should have prompted a thorough review of their level of risk of harm, but did not.

HM Chief Inspector of Probation Liz Calderbank said: “Bexley was a small youth ­offending team (YOT) in one of the safest boroughs in ­London, but nonetheless over half the cases we looked at were for offences of violence.

“In relation to work to ­reduce the risk of harm to others, we consider this a rather disappointing set of findings.

“Other areas of work ­required less development.

“We were encouraged that the YOT appeared well motivated to learn from this inspection and to improve practice for the future.”

In all three categories, which were safeguarding work, likelihood of re offending work and risk of harm to others, the borough received scores which were below ­average, scoring just 51 per cent in the final section.

The team was praised for their “purposeful” home ­visits which were carried out in nearly three-quarters of cases.

It was also highlighted that there had been a reduction in the frequency of offending in 61 per cent of cases and in the seriousness of offending in 64 per cent which was above the average.

Cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Katie Perrior said; “The YOT team’s day-to-day work with young offenders helps Bexley to maintain its current ­status as the safest borough in ­London.

“The snapshot of the service that the report was based on didn’t fully highlight some of our achievements particularly our very effective diversionary work with first time entrants into the youth justice system.

“We appreciate the points made by the inspector and will take account of the report’s findings as we continue to improve the service.”

An improvement plan addressing the recommendations contained in the report is due to be submitted to the inspectorate within a month.