Youth services advised to work on more consistency in tackling knife crime
Children who bring knives to school in Wandsworth are not always reported to the police it has emerged.
Although children who are found with blades are always excluded from school, it depends on which school a child goes to as to whether the police are told, an inspection of the probation service found.
Government inspectors were assessing the Youth Offending Team (YOT), which is run by the council and works with the police, courts, NHS and schools.
The team supervises young people (aged 10 to 18) who are known to police, either from having been sentenced by a court or through their behaviour despite not having been charged.
In an otherwise mostly 'good' report, welcomed by the council as being a 'testament to the very good work' of its staff, HM Inspectorate of Probation said the YOT needs to work to become more consistent in tackling knife crime.
This inconsistency means that police are often taking the lead, meaning some young people go through the court system unnecessarily.
But, when the YOT is more involved, out-of-court solutions were found to be “outstanding”.
Inspectors also praised the team for its work making young people safe, for example when considering times and locations for appointments – they recognised dangers to some young people from gangs and territorial disputes in the borough.
And the overall rating of ‘good’ means Wandsworth’s YOT joins just a handful of other schemes to be rated so positively.
Wandsworth’s cabinet member for children and young people Councillor Sarah McDermott said: “The good rating awarded to the service is testament to the very good work being delivered in this very challenging and complex field of work.
“Staff in the YOT deserve the highest praise for the very difficult tasks they perform day in and day out on behalf of the whole community.
“Our focus moving forward is to continue to work alongside the police, schools, NHS services, the courts and probation service in tackling gangs and knife crime.
“This will need a cross-cutting approach that includes early intervention, and the strengths identified in this report shows that our Community Safety Partnership and YOT is well placed to do this.”
Superintendent Simon Message of South West Basic Command Unit, which covers Wandsworth, said police were aware of the report.
He said,“We have comprehensive links with secondary schools across Wandsworth with a dedicated officer assigned to each school, and we continue to liaise with head teachers to ensure there is a consistent approach when reporting incidents to police.”
Written with contributions from Calum Rutter, Local Democracy Reporter
March 18, 2019