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Cheshire Youth Justice Service – which provides support for young people at risk of committing crime, those who have been convicted and victims – has been praised by government inspectors.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation has rated the service as ‘Good’, following an inspection led by HM Inspector Yvonne McGuckian, and supported by a team of inspectors and colleagues from across the Inspectorate, police, health, social care, and education.

The joint inspection assessed Cheshire Youth Justice Service across three broad areas – the arrangements for organisational delivery of the service, the quality of work done with children sentenced by the courts, and the quality of out-of-court disposal work.

Inspectors praised the work being carried out by the service, highlighting a clear ambition for children, sustained and effective partnerships, and sound operational delivery.

Overall, Cheshire was rated as ‘Good’ – and achieved ‘Outstanding’ ratings in the areas of governance, implementation and delivery, and joint working. It means Cheshire has achieved the highest score in any of the joint inspections completed to date with colleague inspectors from police, health, social care, and education.

Cheshire Youth Justice Service covers the whole of Cheshire, across the four local authorities of Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton, and Warrington. The goal of the service is to work with children and young people aged 10-17, supporting them to lead a life free from crime and helping to reduce crime in the local area.

The team comprises a number of specialties such as police, probation service, children’s social care, health, education, and other services such as substance misuse, mental health, and housing.

Tracey Coffey, Operational Director of Children and Families at Halton Borough Council, and chair of the Management Board of Cheshire Youth Justice Service, said: “This report is good news for children and families in Cheshire as well as those affected by crime in our county. It is heartening to see that Inspectors recognised our ‘child first’ and trauma-informed approach, along with the good outcomes we are achieving for victims.

“Our journey of continuous improvement continues – but from a very high standard. We know our challenges in the future and embrace them. The fact the service has performed magnificently throughout the pandemic is a tribute to all staff, volunteers and partners, and I’d like to give a heartfelt thanks to all concerned.”

Key strengths highlighted by the inspectors included:

  • A positive, child-focused culture, embedded across the many partner organisations working with the service
  • Knowledgeable, skilled, experienced and passionate staff forming good relationships with children and understanding the factors that had led them to offend
  • Priority given to both the needs of children and the needs of victims
  • The effectiveness of the board in setting out the priorities for the service
  • The ability of managers to establish and maintain effective partnerships with four different local authorities, which remained consistent during periods of significant change, including the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Young people being given excellent access to health services and support to remain in education, training or employment
  • Good use of out-of-court disposals to prevent children from entering the criminal justice system

Warrington Borough Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Sarah Hall, said: “Everyone at Cheshire Youth Justice Service works tirelessly to deliver a quality service and provide children and young people with the best possible outcomes. I’m delighted that this has been recognised by inspectors.

“Best of all, the service can look forward to a future of ongoing improvement, thanks to the dedicated staff, fantastic partnership working and a strong child-focused approach, which is making a real difference to young people’s lives.”

You can read the report in full here.