Update: SPI Policy Committee - November 2017

Standards, Performance & Inspection meeting

The Head of Contracts from the newly formed Youth Custody Service (YCS), joined the group to discuss the stark assessment of the youth justice system presented in the Chief Inspector of Prisons’ annual report 2016/17. HMCI concluded that: “There was not a single establishment that we inspected in England and Wales in which it was safe to hold children and young people,” describing the speed of decline as “staggering,” and warning the current state of youth custody is so dangerous tragedy is “inevitable.”

The formation of the YCS decouples the YJB’s responsibility for oversight and delivery of youth justice services but it is unclear if the addition of this extra player will help or hinder this complex set of arrangements. The group asked how the concerns raised by HMCI were being addressed by the NCS and how the MoJ, the YJB, the DfE and operators were engaged in this process. A significant piece of work around the workforce in secure settings is now in train, this involves redesigning the role of staff working directly with children and young people, encouraging use of social pedagogy and the provision of additional training. Investments are also being made in the secure estate and in the longer term secure schools will replace YOIs and STCs.

Finally, the group received a short update on the progress of the Association’s plans for the development of regional improvement alliances. This work attempts to formalise, and bring a greater level of coherence to the sector-led improvement arrangements already in place across the nine regions. The LGA and Solace are actively engaged with this work, as is the DfE. The group discussed the importance of all LAs having an equal share and stake in the arrangements and called on ADCS to continue to press on the valuable learning LAs that had been on an improvement journey have to share – it isn’t just ‘good’ LAs that have something to give. Three regions have agreed to pilot these new arrangements in the autumn term. Learning from this exercise would be brought back to a future meeting of the committee.

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