Agenda item

Youth Justice Service Update

To provide Members with an update on the Youth Justice Service.


The Chairperson welcomed Councillor Graham Hinchey (Cabinet Member for Children and Families); Deborah Driffield (Director, Children’s Services); Graham Robb (Independent Chair of the Youth Justice Board) and Angharad Thomas (Operational Manager, Youth Offending Service) to the meeting.


Councillor Hinchey was invited to make a statement in which welcomed Angharad Thomas to the team and was pleased that Graham Robb will remain at Cardiff for another 12 months.  The Inspectors were persuaded that there should be open letter to Members of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committed in confidence about the progress.  The feedback in December was positive and progress has been made and will continue.


Graham Robb outlined the following:


·         since the report was written the strategic stocktake has been completed;

·         we are now 6 months in to a 2 year programme;

·         3 workshops/sessions have taken place with staff and Councillors.  It is important to keep a close eye on the priorities to ensure that Angharad Thomas has the chance to all the service development work she needs and wants to do; 

·         There is still more quality assurance work to be done and work force development;

·         A lot of progress has been made on the health needs assessments;  The sub-committee looking at this issue is to be far more about problem solving and getting better outcomes for young people;

·         It is vital that we consider and be aware of the long term effect of Covid;

·         There will be another full inspection between the end of June and Christmas. We will get some weeks’ notice. It will be a 3 week process; and

·         The YJS Board is beginning to look like business as usual now and a new Chair can be appointed this time next year.


The Chairperson invited questions and comments from Members.



Members made reference to a Police and Crime Plan and the need for early, prompt and positive action to be taken.  Members queried the reoffending rates and that the current average is 3.6 per individual in the first 6 months after the first offence and what focus the service has on intervening with offenders who are reoffending, the nature of the intervention and whether those interventions are prompt enough.  Members were advised that broadly speaking HMIP will consider 60 – 70 cases case in due course.  They will meet the Case Officers and want to ensure that they know the children well and know what needs to be done and what will make the difference.  The first priority has to be to look at children the system at the moment and be sure that a holistic view is being taken.  This risks have to be clear; Good, clear, assessments of the children and the services playing in are a necessity.  It is important that we have live re-offending data. 


The Operational Manager (OM) advised that the focus of the services is now the planning and intervention. There has to be a joined up plan to enable early intervention to avoid reoffending.  It is important that we work with the young person to create the plan rather than them feeling that it is being done for them.  They have to own their plan.   There has to have been some progress as in Cardiff the nature of the offences, when looking at reoffending, are less serious. 


Members were advised that within the service, partnership working is working really well, but more work needs to be done in strengthening links with the Early Help Team.


Members noted the importance of completing the joint strategic needs assessment, it will inform as to what other partners may be needed within the community to support the young people.  There may also be more sub-groups required on particular aspects of the work.


The Director advised that recently there has been some joint working with Health in relation to speech and language therapy; there is a high percentage of children involved in the Youth Justice Service who suffer such difficulties.  Whilst training and pathways were reviewed by therapist, it is not seen as a gap it is something which needs to be developed going forward. 



Members referred to the reduction in case work and asked what that was due to Covid.  If that is case what is in place to address the spikes as the recovery process continues.


The OM advised that there has been a reduction in the statutory case load but the Out of Court and Prevention case load is increasing.  It was noted in relation to the total lack of Probation input in February in Youth Justice Service Case Planning Forums was due to  no young people of that age group during that time.  Members were advised that a Probation Officer has been seconded to the Team and the Sub-Committee is Chaired by a Member of the Probation Service. 



Members commented that the issues that have been raised during this process are not just issues for the Youth Justice Service but for all those partners involved as well; Children’s Services; Education; Community Safety Partnership; and Third Sector.  The other services need to be held to account, they are societal problems and whilst Children’s Services can provide some of the support mechanisms, the problems themselves cannot be solved without the input of all.



Members referred to Quality Assurance as being a work in progress and what the priorities were.  Members were advised that time is required to better understand the impact of the work that is currently being undertaken.  It is not just about meeting performance targets is about better education and better outcomes for the young people. It is the long term impact.


RESOLVED – That the Chairperson writes to the Cabinet Member on behalf of the Committee expressing their comments and observations during the Way Forward.


Supporting documents: