Inspector warns work to rehabilitate young offenders suffering under budget cuts

Work to rehabilitate child criminals in the West Midlands is suffering under budget cuts and could be putting the public at risk, according to inspectors.

HM Inspectorate of Probation rated Walsall Youth Justice Service as requiring improvement – and made a series of recommendations – after saying a second year of funding cuts was “affecting the quality of work with troubled children”.

The service – which supervises children aged 10 to 18 who have a conviction or are being dealt with outside the courts for minor offences – has the lowest budget of any such service in the region, the body said.

Other facilities like youth centres – which may help tackle anti-social behaviour and crime have dwindled, according to the report.

Justin Russell (pictured), chief inspector of probation, said: “Walsall Youth Justice Service is attempting to minimise the impact of these savings but the effects are becoming clear to see.

“Key posts and facilities have been lost and the workforce has been operating at, and on occasions beyond, capacity.

“Work to identify and manage risk of harm to others and the protection of victims needs to improve, as it has lost focus and receives very little attention at strategic or operational level.”

Inspectors also found that too many children and young people receiving supervision were not in school, training or employment.

Mr Russell urged Walsall Council to address the problem, adding: “Progress in this area has been too slow.”

Meanwhile, inspectors decided a second facility in the region also required improvement when it raised concerns about Dudley Youth Offending Service (YOS) and made more recommendations.

Lack of proper education provision for young offenders “is a serious issue that is not getting the attention it deserves and progress has been too slow”, the inspectors said.

Mr Russell added: “A high number of young people known to the YOS are not in education or training, and children are offending at times when they should be in school.

“Some staff have resorted to teaching children who have been excluded because there are no suitable alternatives.”

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