Category Archives: Probation

Approved premises need more effective focus on drug testing and managing the risks of substance abuse, says Ombudsman

 

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Approved Premise (APs), home to people released from prison or on bail or court orders, need more effective drug testing practices and better staff guidance to identify and address the risks associated with substance misuse, and support individuals, according to a report by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO).

Overdoses of opiate and other drugs, including alcohol, by people released from prison remain a significant risk, the PPO ‘Learning Lessons’ bulletin found. People are at a higher risk of overdose if they slip back into drug and alcohol use after periods of abstinence or detoxification.

The bulletin – Approved Premises – substance misusebased on findings from deaths in APs investigated by the PPO also raised significant concerns about New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). These range from stimulants to hallucinogens and are commonly seen in prisons and the community as synthetic cannabinoids, known by names such as Spice and Mamba.

Elizabeth Moody, the acting Ombudsman, said: “The rise of New Psychoactive Substance use in the prison estate is well documented and is widely recognised, in the words of the previous Ombudsman, as a “game-changer”. However, it is clear from our investigations that the implications of NPS for the AP estate have not yet been fully understood or addressed by the National Probation Service (which is responsible for APs).”

The PPO examined 29 of their investigations into AP deaths that were drug-related, or where there was a history of substance misuse. The bulletin expressed concern that testing for NPS in APs “appears to lag behind that in prisons and does not draw on the experience of prisons”. One case study in the bulletin discloses that AP staff were unable to test a man despite their concern he had taken NPS.

The PPO found some good practice in the management and care for those who misuse drugs and alcohol. However, Elizabeth Moody added, “we also see cases with too little focus on the risk of relapse and overdose.”

Some of the PPO investigations identified deficiencies in information sharing and in welfare checks. The bulletin made a number of recommendations relating to:

  • Ensuring a good flow of information between stakeholders, which is critical, particularly for managing substance misuse where there is a clear requirement for effective multi-disciplinary working. PPO investigations found this did not always happen.
  • Checks on the welfare of AP residents – another important way to ensure the risks associated with substance abuse are well managed. PPO investigations found checks were not always carried out effectively.
  • An overarching need for the National Probation Service to improve the AP manual to give staff better guidance on NPS use, information sharing and making welfare checks.

Elizabeth Moody said:

“We know offenders can be at heightened risk of death following their release into the community. I hope this bulletin will help AP staff apply the learning from our investigations to improve the ways they identify, monitor and address the risk factors associated with substance misuse.”

The bulletin is available here – https://www.ppo.gov.uk/?p=10336

Public At Risk Due To Poor Probation Work Says Inspectorate

The public is at greater risk than necessary because of shortcomings at a probation body responsible for supervising thousands of offenders, a report warns. Inspectors found staff assigned to manage low and medium-risk individuals in Gloucestershire were making “heroic efforts” but faced “plainly unreasonable” caseloads. The probation watchdog described the quality of public protection work… Continue Reading

Community Sentences are not being delivered properly says HMI Probation

Rehabilitation activity requirements (RARs), a central feature of many community sentences, are not being delivered properly, said Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation. These flexible provisions in community sentences enable probation providers to do whatever they think will work best with individuals to reduce their reoffending, but all too often, too little is… Continue Reading

North London Probation Services – Unacceptable Service Putting Public At Risk Say Inspectors

Probation services in the north of London had deteriorated and work by the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) responsible for managing low and medium-risk offenders was poor. People were more at risk as a result, and this was unacceptable, said Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation. Today she published the report of a recent… Continue Reading

CRC and Through The Gate: “Delivery is poor and little to commend.”

The report reflects the findings of HM Inspectorate of Probation and HM Inspectorate of Prisons. Under the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation reforms, all prisoners sentenced to 12 months or less are now subject to 12 month’s supervision by probation services on release. This means that an extra 50,000 extra people are now supervised, an increase of… Continue Reading

Transforming Rehabilitation – further improvements, but problems remain

Fifteen months after the implementation of Transforming Rehabilitation, the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies are now working better together, but some significant problems remain. Advice given to courts is less reliable in some cases, and work to prepare prisoners on release needs a greater focus, said Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of… Continue Reading

Little or no progress at all in moving young offenders to adult probation services say Inspectors

Little progress has been made in improving the preparation and planning for young people to move from youth offending services to adult probation services and this can affect their rehabilitation, said Alan MacDonald, Assistant Chief Inspector of Probation. Today HM Inspectorate of Probation published the report of an inspection of transition arrangements. Today’s report, Transition… Continue Reading

Back From The Dead Prison Officer Faces Jail

The back-from-the-dead canoe fraudster, former Holme House prison officer John Darwin (left), from Hartlepool, is facing a return to prison after he left the UK without permission to meet a statuesque Ukrainian in a mini-skirt. The 63-year-old was pictured in The Sun on a date with a blonde woman in her 20s in the town… Continue Reading

Probation Trusts Working Well To Support Victims Says Chief Inspector

The work Probation Trusts did to keep victims of crime informed and prepared for an offender’s release was generally of a high standard, said Liz Calderbank, Chief Inspector of Probation, publishing the report of an inspection of the Victim Contact Scheme. However, she added that some improvements could be made to the way in which… Continue Reading

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