YOUTH offending teams in County Durham have been praised by an independent inspectorate.

A Government multi-agency inspection team carried out an inquiry into the service in March and April and concluded it was a good service.

It found there was a variety of projects available across the county for children and young people at risk of offending.

Assessments, with input from health workers and specialists, were completed to a high standard.

Inspectors found more attention needed to be given to assessing risk of harm and action was needed to ensure early contact with victims of crime.

Andrew Bridges, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, said: "The County Durham youth offending service is one of the largest we have inspected in this first stage of the inspection programme.

"Our overall assessment was that it was good. The report contains a number of recommendations which we believe will assist the service to develop both the crime prevention and the reducing re-offending elements of its work."

The main findings of the report were:

* Funding and resources were in place for the prevention of both offending and re-offending;

* A more structured approach to supervision and training was required;

* The service engaged well with local agendas and partner agencies spoke highly of its work;

* The schemes prioritised children and young people identified as at risk;

* The police still had to adopt guidelines on final warnings to young people.

The inspection also found, in some cases, victim details were not passed to the service within 24 hours of offenders being charged by the police or given a final warning.