The voices of young people on supervision
Today (13 November 2018), the probation inspectorate team published the third in its new series of research bulletins.
This bulletin focuses upon the views of 14,542 children and young people supervised by Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) between April 2014 and March 2017 who responded to HMI Probation’s eSurvey. This is a very rich data source and it is vital that their voices are heard and taken into account when designing and reviewing services, maximising the quality of these services and ensuring that they are sufficiently personalised and responsive to their different needs.
The headline findings were:
- Most children and young people were positive about working with the YOT, reporting that their views had been taken seriously (96%), that they had been treated fairly (95%), and that the service had been good (95%).
- Nearly nine in ten (87%) reported that they were now less likely to reoffend, especially if they also felt the quality of the YOT work had been good, that their views had been taken seriously and they had been treated fairly – the latter two being key elements of procedural justice.
- Responses were a little less positive among those not on a first-tier order and those with a black, Asian, mixed or other ethnic background. While not large, the differences were significant and YOTs should continue to explore potential areas for improvement for these children and young people.
- There were differences between young people of different age groups in their reported needs and reported barriers to effective engagement. Whether the child or young person felt that there had been an improvement in relation to a specific need was strongly associated with whether they had received relevant help or not – those who had received help being much more likely to say that there had been an improvement. The importance of tailored and responsive intervention was thus evident.
- Children and young people were least likely to say that help had been provided (when required) with money problems and with living arrangements. YOTs should explore whether more can be done in addressing these specific needs.
- Young women and those reporting a disability were more likely to report having felt afraid or unsafe and not all informed the YOT. Careful consideration needs to be given in all cases to potential issues around safety.
If you work in a YOT, I would really encourage you to peruse the research bulletin in detail as it is bound to provoke ideas for improving practice further. Here are some of the findings I found of interest.
YOTs appear to be doing a good job at explaining why young people have to attend:
For those young people who indicated that they had a problem, most said that the YOT had provided them with help. Figure 7 shows that YOTs were most likely to have helped the young person to understand what they needed to do to stop offending (96%) and make better decisions (94%), and were least likely to have provided enough help with money problems (72%) or with living arrangements (78%).
Young people under supervision were also asked their views about the overall quality and impact of the YOT’s work. As you can see, a large majority were very positive:
It’s been heartening experience to be able to report on such a positive user experience of a core criminal justice service. The value of this HMI Probation research bulletin is amplified by there being such a large number of young people who have participated in the electronic survey. It also provides a very robust benchmark for future feedback.