The Sheffield Youth Justice Service (YJS) is one of the most important parts of Sheffield Council. They work with 10-18 year olds, some of which have been given sentences and others that have received cautions or community resolutions.
During a routine inspection, the HM Inspectorate of Probation assessed 12 aspects of Sheffield YJS. They received an overall mark of ‘Good’, however the staff themselves received the highest mark possible: ‘Outstanding’.
Making a Difference
Sheffield YJS is based at Star House, alongside many other children and youth services facilities. The staff were praised for their high level of knowledge, training and their excellent skills in performing their various tasks. The staff take the time to form genuine positive relationships with each of the children in their care. This provides an excellent platform of role models for children and teens that are most at risk.
There is also a lot to be said of their partnership network – the children in care have access to a vast range of specialist services that help them to get their life onto a positive track and prevent reoffending.
Areas to Improve
Altohugh the staff themselves received the highest mark possible, there are still some areas of the Sheffield YJS that need some attention. The first of these was that many of the children were not in full-time education; many young adults known to the YJS are in fixed-term exclusion from their schools.
Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said: “We saw many examples of YJS staff supporting excluded children to take up other forms of education and learning. However, this does not tackle the root cause of the problem.
“Every child is entitled to receive an education and the YJS needs to address this at both a tactical and strategic level. We recommend the YJS work with education providers to reduce the number of exclusions. There needs to be a representative from the council’s education department on the YJS’s Management Board – there has been a gap of more than a year and this is hindering progress.”
The other improvement was to look at staff safety and well-being. The Inspectorate informed Sheffield YJS that this could be tackled with better equipment resourcing and policy change. This would allow staff to deal with difficult young people in a safer manner.
It was also commented by Chief Inspector Russell that there is so much to commend Sheffield YJS for. With small change, an overall rating of ‘Outstanding’ is well within their reach.