Category Archives: Probation

Community Sentences are not being delivered properly says HMI Probation

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 13.23.19Rehabilitation 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 actually being done. Today she published a report, The Implementation and Delivery of Rehabilitation Activity Requirements.

RARs were introduced in 2015 alongside the new probation delivery arrangements to ensure flexible and efficient sentencing, and at the same time liberate the new probation providers and encourage innovation. The aim was to reduce reoffending. One in three community orders now includes a RAR provision in the order. Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) carry the large majority of these cases. The court specifies a maximum number of days of activity to be undertaken, with probation providers then free to decide what happens from then on.

Inspectors found that not enough was being done under these orders to meet the government’s policy aims. Instead they found a lack of impetus and direction in a good proportion of cases and as a consequence, early signs of a reduction in confidence from judges and magistrates.

Not enough was being done by the National Probation Service (NPS) in court reports to advise sentencers about what can be done locally under these provisions, or whether or not this was the most suitable sentencing option. Other government initiatives, for example changes to speed up sentencing, meant that staff did not always have time for the more detailed checks and assessments necessary before court, to support other sentencing recommendations which might in some cases be more suitable, such as drug or alcohol treatment.

Subsequent decisions about the work to be done tended to be influenced by the limited range of activities available rather than the factors most clearly linked to the offending. What is more, too little activity had happened in the cases inspectors looked at, and in over one in ten there had been no purposeful activity at all. In cases where those sentenced did not turn up for appointments, the response by CRCs was inadequate, leading to a lack of sufficient progress for those individuals and reducing sentencer confidence in these sorts of community orders.

These problems were made worse by outdated IT systems which were not designed to capture the new pattern of contacts, meaning records were confused and inaccurate.

Inspectors made recommendations which include CRCs and the NPS making sure that NPS court liaison staff have sufficient information about the activities available to make informed proposals for RARs, and HM Prison and Probation Service should make sure case management systems give an accurate record of RAR days and appointments. But above all, CRCs need to do more.

Dame Glenys Stacey said:

“These orders have a key role to play in reducing reoffending. Government hoped that the new probation companies would use them to do more to rehabilitate offenders, but in fact less than ever is being done. So far this has been a triumph of experience over hope, rather than hope over experience. We advise government to consider whether, with changes to probation company contracts these orders can be made to work well, or whether it is time for a more fundamental rethink.”

A copy of this report can be found on HM Inspectorate of Probation’s website at from 22 February 2017.

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

4000 Probation Staff Continue Strike Action

Thousands of probation staff will continue a 24-hour strike today over Government plans to privatise the service. Members of the National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) walked out of offices across England and Wales yesterday at midday in only the fourth strike in the union’s 101-year history. The union previously registered a trade dispute over… Continue Reading