The Isle of Wight Youth Justice Service (YJS) has received an overall rating of ‘requires improvement’ following an inspection by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation.

In the inspection report, six of the 13 categories require improvement, with two rated as ‘inadequate’, two ‘good’ and one ‘outstanding’.

Too few of the inspected cases had sufficient plans to address the child’s risk of harm to other people, and, in a small number of cases, issues such as knife possession were not considered a factor in understanding the potential risk.

Inspectors said they are not confident that plans are robust enough to support the reduction of risk factors that children may show.

Planning for a child's safety was not done well enough in the majority of reviewed cases, the report also states.

Where a child’s safety was identified as medium or high risk, inspectors found that, in some cases, support had not been sought from other agencies while considering the risks of child exploitation, self-harm, emotional wellbeing, substance misuse or sexual health, with police engagement noted as ‘limited’.

Too frequently, children's safety and wellbeing were not considered well enough in assessment work, and inspectors found that case managers had not fully explored important information or had misunderstood it entirely.

These gaps included risks to the child within the home, episodes of homelessness, previous self-harm, risks associated with potential retaliation and negative influences from known adults in the child’s life.

In a small number of cases, inspectors found the case manager had not considered substance abuse when planning for the child’s safety.

Liaison with CAMHS or other support providers was frequently unsatisfactory, the report said, despite concerns about the child’s mental or emotional wellbeing.

Inspectors also have concerns about the diverse needs of children not always being fully understood or addressed, with issues including gender, mental health, learning disability and communication.

The report also details that further effort is required to address understaffing issues, with some staff telling inspectors their workload felt ‘unmanageable’.

Inspectors did note, however, that the service has the benefit of an experienced, knowledgeable and committed chair, who is supported by an energetic, thoughtful and purposeful management team.

The Island service also has a committed and highly motivated staff group who understand what is needed to support children, but inspectors did find some gaps in practitioners’ knowledge, skills or experience.

Inspectors also looked into the quality of the service’s resettlement work – the key services which need to be in place when a child is released from custody – which was separately rated as ‘Good’.

Sue McAllister, interim chief inspector of probation, said: “It was a mixed picture for the Isle of Wight Youth Justice Service.

“Staff are committed and determined to improve the lives of children under their supervision, but there are areas we think need to be improved.

“This includes how the risk of harm a child may pose to others is identified and analysed, and greater input from the management board to lead the service’s future.”

His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation has made seven recommendations, which it believes will have a positive impact.