The Bristol City Council team that supports young people that are in trouble with the law has been rated as ‘requires improvement’ by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation.
The Bristol Youth Offending Team (YOT) was told that it needed to look again at its staffing levels, and do more to support children and young people who have offended to get a sufficient education.
Bristol City Council had already been aware of the issues and launched a review into the service. The Youth Justice Partnership Board will meet next month in order to consider the findings of the review and decide how the issues might be addressed.
Inspectors found staff at Bristol YOT were skilled and motivated, but were too stretched to do an effective job. Workloads were “unsustainably high”, leading staff to complete work that was below par.
Inspectors also found risk assessments and planning had been rushed or were not completed properly in some cases. This work is crucial to help officers understand whether children and young people pose a risk to themselves or others.
A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: “We are working with partners in our Youth Justice Partnership to respond to the findings of this report which identifies areas of good practice whilst also outlining areas for improvement.
“Our youth offending team has been commended for being highly skilled, impressive, well regarded and committed to their work despite facing challenges with resources. The leadership has also been recognised as promoting the need for a high quality and personalised service for the children and young people it serves. However the report also highlights that funding is required to ensure the team can effectively manage the workload and support the young people they work with.
“This need was identified prior to the inspection and a full review of the service began in June to consider the future funding requirements and structure of the service. The results of this are due to be considered next month by the Youth Justice Partnership Board, where all statutory partners will be represented, to decide on the best way forward for the service.”
The overall rating of ‘requires improvement’ is the second-lowest of four scores given by the inspectorate.
Chief Inspector of Probation Dame Glenys Stacey said: “For youth offending work to be effective, staff need to build trusting, challenging and supportive relationships with the children and young people they supervise. We found staff had a clear desire to build these relationships but were frustrated that their workloads sometimes limited them from doing so.”