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Five reasons Surrey's Youth Offending Service is inadequate, according to damning inspection report

Monday 26th of August 2019 | Europe, Royaume-Uni
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Inspectors raised serious concerns about the service tasked with turning young offenders away from crime at a time when worries about youth offending are on the rise

The service charged with turning Surrey's young offenders away from a life of crime has been branded "inadequate" by government inspectors.

Amid concerns about youth crime in the county following the stabbing of a teenager in Addlestone on Tuesday night (August 20), HM Inspectorate of Probation has raised serious concerns about the performance of Surrey's Youth Offending Service (YOS).

In a damning report published on Thursday (August 22), inspectors said the service lacked "understanding about the profile of offending in the county" and in many cases "did not effectively promote the safety of other people".

In one case highlighted by inspectors, a young person received a caution for GBH despite having a history of committing violent offences, while in another YOS staff failed to assess the risk that a thief's family would encourage further crime despite the boy's father being his co-defendant.

Although Surrey's youth reoffending rate of 40.5% is in line with the national average, the inspectors' rating of "inadequate" puts the county's YOS in the bottom 10% of services - a worrying sign given rising concerns over knife crime involving young people, anti-social behaviour and the exploitation of children by criminal gangs including "county lines" drug dealers.

With inspectors noting "many areas where practice is poor", five key problems emerged from the report on the YOS, which has seen significant funding cuts in recent years. You can read about the problems they found below.

1. Youths receiving cautions for serious offences

Although Surrey had a very low rate of young people entering the criminal justice system for the first time, inspectors said this "does not indicate a high-performing service" and described Surrey's use of out-of-court disposals like cautions and community resolutions as "of serious concern".

Staff failed to consider the gravity of the offence, nor did they look at offences as a wider pattern of behaviour. Instead, they looked at each offence in isolation, meaning some serious offenders kept being dealt with out-of-court.

In one case, a young offender who had already received several community resolutions for assaults went on to receive a conditional caution for GBH before he finally ended up in court for yet another offence.

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