Inspectors report serious concerns about ‘inadequate’ youth offending service in Cardiff

A Welsh youth offending service has been rated inadequate after inspectors raised “serious concerns” about its standard of work with child criminals.

Chief inspector of probation Justin Russell said Cardiff Youth Offending Service (YOS) received the lowest possible performance rating across the board for the first time and has been told to improve in every aspect of its work.

He said: “These findings are very disappointing. We had serious concerns about the organisation’s senior leadership and structure, and the quality of its work with children who have offended or who are at risk of offending.”

Supervising convicted 10 to 18-year-olds or those who have come to the attention of police, the body is formed of council officials, police and probation as well as health and social care workers.

In three cases, inspectors identified specific safeguarding and public protection concerns, and told bosses to draw up urgent action plans.

National strategies on spotting risks from county lines gangs were also not being followed, leaving children under supervision in danger of being targeted or posing a threat to others.

Mr Russell (pictured) said the management board “did not have a clear vision” and members were unsure of their responsibilities, having “limited understanding” of the challenges faced by children coming under their supervision.

There was “widespread poor practice”, he said, adding: “More work should have been done to ensure the safety of children and protect the public.

“Many of the children known to Cardiff YOS have complex needs and come from difficult backgrounds. The YOS is not providing sufficient high-quality services that address children’s needs and support them to pursue crime-free lives.”

Mr Russell added: “The actions taken since the inspection by senior managers in Cardiff encourage us to believe that they will act on our recommendations to improve the service, but there is a great deal of work to do.”

Cardiff Council announced a two-year plan to “transform” the city’s youth justice services, pledging effective leadership and work from staff.

A statement said the probation inspection findings had “reinforced our own analysis of the service and underlined the challenges we have given ourselves in order to transform youth justice in Cardiff”.

“We knew that we had to work hard and quickly to make change happen. This strategy is the outcome of that work.”

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