Lewisham Council has won a national award for transforming the borough’s Youth Offending Service (YOS).  

The MJ Awards, held by local authority magazine the Municipal Journal, were held on October 2.  

Lewisham’s entry was described as “compelling and inspiring”. 

“Levels of youth violence and re-offending meant a whole system approach, which has seen a considerable positive transformation.  

“It has delivered demonstrable improvement in outcomes for young people, the workforce and multi-disciplinary partnerships,” according to the MJ. 

The service was up against finalists Lincolnshire, South Norfolk, Westminster, Hampshire, and Knowsley. 

Hampshire County Council and Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council were both highly commended.  

A Lewisham spokesperson said it won after “completely remodelling” the YOS, “taking on an innovative and unique new way of working which is based on a trauma-informed approach, restorative justice and unconscious bias”. 

According to the council, its new way of working is based on safety, transparency and trustworthiness, choice, giving people a voice, shared decision-making, and empowering young people by “recognisining the individual’s strengths to build upon them”.  

It aimed to create spaces where young people feel “culturally, emotionally and physically safe”, while giving them the opportunity to have their views and feelings “heard and acknowledged”.  

 “To make this happen, the council embarked on a comprehensive programme of learning, development and change across the whole of the YOS.  

“The youth justice management board have also undertaken training on the trauma-informed approach and there have been a series of workshops delivered to partners to highlight and address unconscious bias,” the spokesperson said. 

 Councillor Brenda Dacres, cabinet member for safer communities, said: “The Youth Offending Service has completely transformed the way it operates.  

“This dedicated team of officers really threw themselves into learning about, and creating better ways of engaging with young people.  

“There couldn’t be a better way to recognise their hard work, time and shear effort they have put in to support some of the most vulnerable and at risk members of our society.”