Care Quality Commission
Printable version E-mail this to a friend

Youth Offending Teams improve their contributions to health services for children and young people who offend

Children and young people who offend are more likely to receive the health services they need following improved working by youth offending teams, says a joint report published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMI Probation).

‘Re:Actions, the third review of healthcare in the community for young people who offend’ looks at how Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) help provide health services to the children and young people they work with.

It found that access to and management of health services for this group have improved since the last review in 2009.

The review assessed whether young people had their physical, emotional and mental health needs assessed on contact with YOTs, as well as their need for alcohol and substance misuse support programmes.

It also looked at how YOTs work with health partners and how well children and young people’s health needs are provided for as they move in and out of the criminal justice system.

One of the most notable changes is that YOT boards now include a health worker and nearly all YOTs have a service level agreement with their respective PCTs.

PCTs financial contribution to YOTs has also increased from 3.4 percent in 2008 to an average of 5.4 percent of the overall YOT budget.

However further progress is still required. YOTs are still not planning and integrating offending services with health services enough and the physical health needs of the children and young people they work with are still not always sufficiently assessed.

Insufficient numbers of YOTs are monitoring how effective support from health services can be, meaning they’re not always learning what works well for future planning or justifying the money they’re spending on health services.

There remain problems with services such as alcohol or substance misuse programmes or mental health support being provided consistently when children and young people move between a secure setting and the community and from young people’s service to adults’ services.

This is important because the young person’s contact with their support programme can stop altogether, and the programme thus fails to have any positive impact. 

On behalf of CQC and HMI Probation, CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said: ‘Children and young people who offend are more likely to need community-level health support, such as assessment for mental health or learning disability services, alcohol or substance misuse services, but are often one of the hardest groups to reach.

‘This report shows YOTs are now challenging the misconception that young people’s health needs are a GPs responsibility. We know where youth offending workers can provide a holistic assessment of young people’s health needs and develop support programmes to support these needs, this can in itself help to address offending behaviour, providing immense benefit to the young person, their future and to their local community.

‘We’re delighted to find considerable improvements in this review but concerns remain that they’re not hampered by future cuts made in relation to the economic climate.’

This review uses evidence collected from 19 inspections, case assessments by HMI Probation from its regular inspections of youth offending work, and questionnaires returned from around fifty percent of all the 140 YOTs in England.

For further information please contact the CQC press office on 0207 448 9401 or out of hours on 07917 232 143.

About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of all health and adult social care in England. Our aim is to make sure that better care is provided for everyone, whether it is in hospital, in care homes, in people’s own homes, or anywhere else that care is provided. We also seek to protect the interests of people whose rights are restricted under the Mental Health Act. We promote the rights and interests of people who use services and we have a wide range of enforcement powers to take action on their behalf if services are unacceptably poor.

Under a new regulatory system introduced by government, the NHS, independent healthcare and adult social care must meet a single set of essential standards of quality and safety for the first time. We register health and adult social care services if they meet essential standards, we monitor them to make sure that they continue to do so and we respond quickly if there are concerns that standards are not being maintained.  We do this by closely monitoring a wide range of information about the quality and safety of services, including the views of people who use services, and through assessment and inspection The feedback from people who use services is a vital part of our dynamic system of regulation which places the views, experiences, health and wellbeing of people who use services at its centre.

About HM Inspectorate of Probation

HM Inspectorate of Probation is an independent inspectorate, funded by the Ministry of Justice, and reporting directly to the Secretary of State on the effectiveness of work with individual offenders, children and young people aimed at reducing re-offending and protecting the public.