This inspection was led by HMI Probation, in collaboration with partner inspectorates, in response to the findings from the mainstream inspection programme of youth offending work which suggested that services to children in custody and on release were not being delivered consistently well enough. The inspection focused on the journey and experience of the child. Their cases were tracked through the custodial period, their release and the initial phase out into the community. Inspectors talked to them and their parents/carers where possible and appropriate, about the things that made it easier for them to settle back into their community successfully and about what got in the way.
The offending outcomes for many of the children whose cases were inspected were poor. Too many had been rearrested, charged or convicted of new offences within months, or even weeks, of being released. Other outcomes, including accommodation, education, training or employment, substance misuse and/or physical or mental health was also poor for too many. Very often, the support to help these children to successfully stop offending and start new, law-abiding lives had not been good enough. Many of the children in our inspection were vulnerable to harm, either through their offending or from others. They led complicated and chaotic lives, often in very difficult circumstances.