Havering's youth offender service merger was 'disastrous', says panel member
PUBLISHED: 11:56 09 September 2014 | UPDATED: 12:27 09 September 2014
A panel member from Havering's youth offending service has spoken out against what he believes was its "disastrous" outsourcing to Barking and Dagenham Council (BDC) last year.
But Jeff Stafford’s claims, which echo those made by a councillor in the Recorder, come as bosses at both councils heaped praise on the move.
Cllr Keith Darvill told the Recorder last month the service had “declined” during its time there. His words followed the announcement the programme was being returned to Havering’s control.
Jeff said: “I hold BDC completely responsible for the terrible mess the Havering youth offending service finds itself in, and very much welcome Havering’s decision to take back control.
“When I became a panel member [eight years ago], the training was first class.
“Two years ago, before the disastrous contracting out of the service from Havering to Barking and Dagenham, panel members in Havering were told they needed to be ‘retrained’ to fall in line with legislation. To date, we have not received this training.
“Youth offending team guidance says a panel should consist of two voluntary, appropriately trained, community members plus an officer from the youth offending service.
“I often find I am the sole community panel member – which goes completely against the principle of the legislation.”
But Havering’s cabinet member for children and learning Cllr Meg Davis has praised Barking and Dagenham’s contribution to the service.
“We worked successfully with Barking and Dagenham’s youth offending service for two years,” she said.
“This helped us completely turn around the service, improving our performance significantly.”
“Due to reducing budgets we must constantly look at ways to do more with less, and make our taxpayers’ money go further. We found we could not only make a saving, but also make the service more streamlined for young people by merging it with our new early help offer for children over 12. That is the reason the service has been brought back in house, not due to any concerns about Barking and Dagenham’s service.”
Barking and Dagenham Council this week said the service had increased in quality under its watch.
And BDC’s cabinet member for crime Cllr Laila Butt said the council received “nothing but praise from havering and partners in both police and probation for the way we have worked to turn around this service.”