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West Sussex Youth Justice Service praised by inspectors

Work to keep children and young people in West Sussex out of the criminal justice system and reduce reoffending has been praised following an inspection.

West Sussex Youth Justice Service has received an overall rating of ‘good’ from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation, with four areas of the service rated as ‘outstanding’.

West Sussex Youth Justice Service is a partnership of statutory partners from West Sussex County Council (WSCC), Sussex Police, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the Probation Service, the Office for the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Youth Justice Board and HM Courts and Tribunal Service. It provides vital services to help prevent offending and reoffending by children in West Sussex, supports the victims of crime and provides opportunities to repair the harm caused by offending, as well as helping to protect the communities we serve.

The positive inspection follows the recent Government announcement that Children's Services will remain under the Council's control instead of being placed into an independent trust.

The key findings from the report, the first four of which (listed below) were rated outstanding are:

• Children receive a high quality, personalised and responsive service
• Staff are highly skilled and experienced
• Planning is well informed
• Assessments and interventions to divert children from the criminal justice system (known as Out of Court Disposals) are outstanding
• Partnership working is good
• There is strong leadership and governance, both in management and in our Youth Justice Service Management board
• There is a consistent focus on addressing diversity
• The proportion of school-age Youth Justice Service children accessing full-time education and having access to speech, language and communication needs to increase
• Where applicable the views of victims should be used in assessment

Jacquie Russell, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at West Sussex County Council, said: “I’m delighted that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation have acknowledged many strengths in our Youth Justice Service and how, together with our partners we are working with children and young people to reduce reoffending.

“The report recognises the skills and dedication of staff, who they consider to be ‘outstanding.’ I would like to congratulate staff for this excellent endorsement and extend my thanks for their continuous hard work and commitment.

“The feedback and learning from the report are already being used to help us make further improvements as part of our strategic plan.”

Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said: “West Sussex Youth Justice Service has all the hallmarks of a service which understands the needs of children under their supervision and is doing all it can to improve their lives and turn them away from further crimes. They have weathered a tricky period, from the impact of Covid-19 to changes in local children’s services, to continue to make improvements for the benefit of the children, victims and the local community.”

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