THERE has been a “spectacular” drop in the number of young offenders in West Berkshire, according to inspectors.

HMI Probation, which inspects probation and youth offending services, found the local team to be “outstanding” and the second best in the country.

The recent pilot inspection of the youth offending team (YOT) at West Berkshire Council was given a 34 out of 36 score.

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In an annual survey by the team, one young person said: “I would like to thank everyone at the YOT for their help and support over the past four years.

“Even at times when I called you names and was rude, you never walked away and supported me, no matter what. At the time I didn’t appreciate it, but now I realise how much you all helped me.”

HMI Probation praised how the team works with other partners, and the comprehensive plans made for young people which include emotional management, education, training, employment, and developing familial relationships.

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Councillor Dominic Boeck (Con, Aldermaston), lead for children and young people, said: “I am extremely proud of the achievements of our youth offending team, and delighted, although not surprised, by the outstanding rating it has received.

“In the last year West Berkshire has achieved one of the lowest rates in the country of children entering the criminal justice system, and much of this can be put down to the hard work of the youth offending team.

“The number of children dealt with by the youth justice system has reduced spectacularly with those cautioned or convicted down by 79 per cent since 2007.

“Over the same period, the number of children entering the youth justice system for the first time has fallen by 82 per cent and the number prosecuted at court has reduced by more than two thirds.”

Also in the annual survey, a parent of a young person using the service praised the team. The parent said: “I was a bit sceptical at the start, as I wasn’t sure what benefit these sessions would bring. 

“However he has enjoyed the sessions and has said that it has helped him. He even said he will miss talking to you. You built rapport and trust with him very quickly, as he doesn’t normally like to talk about stuff.”