A BODY responsible for youth-related services aiming to reduce crime, protect the public from serious harm and help keep young people out of trouble has been told with more attention to detail it could be ranked among the country’s best.

North Yorkshire Youth Justice Service, which has bases in Northallerton, Scarborough, Harrogate and Selby is made up of representatives from police, probation, health and council services, has scored an overall ‘good’ rating from HM Inspectorate of Probation.

Many of the children the service deals with have complex needs. Some 13 per cent are in council care, 46 per cent have mental health issues and 55 per cent misuse substances.

Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said the service had potential to be graded alongside the country’s four ‘outstanding’ ones if it took a more consistent approach to ensure any risks posed by youths to themselves and others are identified, analysed and managed more robustly.

The report comes two weeks after North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Partnership published a statement about its inquiry surrounding two Northallerton teenagers’ plot in 2017 to replicate the US shooting in which 13 people and two gunmen were killed at Colorado’s Columbine High School in 1999.

The statement said fresh guidelines and training to identify and intervene earlier in coercive relationships between children were necessary.

Mr Russell said he could not comment on individual cases and did not believe the Northallerton case had been considered as part of the inspection.

However, he said the inspection had found North Yorkshire Youth Justice Service staff, who work with ten to 17-year-olds who are serving court sentences, or who have received cautions or community resolutions, had the skills, knowledge and experience to develop supportive relationships with children and their families.

He said: “It’s really important that youth offending services work closely with teachers and schools. That’s why we focus on harm.”

Mr Russell added the North Yorkshire service could improve its work surrounding children who had received a court sentence, saying it needed to “look at every aspect of the case” and improve the quality of planning and case work.

He said: “Managers who are supervising need to make sure they are keeping an eye on detail and consistency.”

Inspectors said they had been impressed with how well-led and managed the service was, particularly as the county had a large number of schools for children with behavioural issues where about 250 children from other areas were placed.

Awarding the service an ‘outstanding’ rating for the quality of its partnerships and services for children, the Inspectorate highlighted how the county’s Youth Justice Service had created a pop-up shed that could be driven across the county to deliver restorative justice projects.

Staff set up the shed in spaces such as gardens or church halls and supervise children to create woodwork projects for local charities or communities, meaning children can develop new skills and give something back to society at the same time.

The inspectors also found the county’s service had teamed up with a social enterprise to run a project for children with high offending-related and social care needs.

Children on the project spend four days per week on construction and horticulture projects, and one day a week developing their English, maths and computer skills or studying for a vocational qualification.

Mr Russell said: “We were particularly impressed with the way the service uses performance data to understand children’s needs and to commission a strong mix of targeted, specialist and mainstream services.

“Staff are committed to the children that they work with and have high aspirations for them. We found staff have the skills, knowledge and experience to develop supportive relationships with children and their families.”