ROTHERHAM Council’s deputy leader admits his job rests on seeing an improvement in the youth offending service.
HM Inspectorate of Probation found that the RMBC-led team “requires improvement” in a December report.
Deputy leader Cllr Gordon Watson (right), the council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We were disappointed with the outcome but we accept the findings and the recommendations and we are keen to make the necessary improvements as fast as we can.”
He told scrutiny members: “At this moment in time, it’s very difficult to be confident about anything. I’m as confident about this as anything I can be.
“Like all of the things in my portfolio, my position depends on this being delivered.
“Let’s be brutally honest about this: if, this time next year, it’s not as it should be you will be talking to somebody else. But I’m confident, elections aside, you will still be talking to me.”
Rotherham Council has overall responsibility for the youth offending team, which also includes staff from the police, council, courts and probation.
The team works with children aged ten to 17 who are serving court sentences, or who have received cautions or community resolutions.
Inspectors said all three key inspection areas organisational delivery, court and out-of-court disposals needed improving.
An action plan was drawn up after the report was published and an extraordinary board meeting was held in January.
Cllr Lyndsay Pitchley, a member of RMBC’s Improving Lives select commission, asked if the team looked ahead at younger members of families who have been involved with youth offending.
She said: “We work closely with police in our ward and I could tell you children who would end up in that service from the age of four.
“There’s generations of families going through the service. They come out and back into crime and the next one goes into youth offending service. It’s heartbreaking to see. It’s a business to them.”
Cllr Jonathan Ireland, who has been a prison officer for more than 20 years, agreed and said: “It’s quite difficult to break the cycle. I’ve seen brothers, fathers, uncles, whole families sometimes.”
Youth offending team manager Emma Ellis said the family approach had been adopted in 2019 and there were now “holistic family assessments” including siblings and the wider environment, for example.
She added: “That’s our ultimate aim, to make things better not only for that young person but also for the wider family.”