Adult probation services under the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme had seen some improvements but more needed to be done, said Paul Wilson, Chief Inspector of Probation. Today HM Inspectorate of Probation published a fourth report on the early implementation of the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme.
The report, Transforming Rehabilitation – Early Implementation 4: an Independent Inspection of the Arrangements for Offender Supervision by HM Inspectorate of Probation, relates to findings from inspections undertaken in July and August 2015. Inspectors focused on work undertaken at the point of sentence and allocation by the National Probation Service (NPS), work undertaken by the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and the NPS to manage offenders, and the interfaces between the two organisations. This included work with those released on licence.
The NPS and CRCs came into existence on 1 June 2014 as part of the Ministry of Justice Transforming Rehabilitation programme. This was the first step in a series of changes designed to open up the probation market to new providers, reduce reoffending rates and allow the NPS to focus on managing high risk of harm offenders, those eligible under Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements and foreign national offenders subject to deportation. All court work is delivered by the NPS. CRCs are not involved in preparing reports for court. They manage cases presenting low and medium risk of serious harm and deliver interventions on low, medium and some high risk cases. CRCs were transferred from public to private ownership on 1 February 2015.
Given the scale of the changes involved, it is not surprising that many of the recommendations from earlier reports still apply. Nevertheless, inspectors were pleased to find that some progress had been made in the following areas:
- the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) had issued national guidance which removed the requirement to complete fully the Case Allocation System process for those cases where the allocation to the NPS is mandatory;
- the NPS was putting a robust and timely risk management plan in place for all high risk of serious harm cases;
- the NPS was ensuring that there was a sufficient full initial assessment of the risks medium- and high-risk offenders posed, particularly to children;
- the NPS was undertaking home visits where appropriate, to manage medium- and high-risk offenders; and
- CRCs were providing appointments with an offender manager as part of group or duty inductions.
Many of the challenges identified in earlier inspections remain and some of the recommendations made in previous reports are still relevant. In particular:
- NOMS should explore the possibility of allowing joint access to the nDelius record for a short period after transfer so that incoming information can be handled efficiently;
- the NPS and CRCs must ensure that relevant information held by either party is shared efficiently at the court hearing stage;
- the NPS should establish a quality assurance system to improve the accuracy of the completion of the Risk of Serious Recidivism tool;
- if it is not possible at the time of allocation to gather all the necessary relevant information from partner agencies, NPS staff should clearly indicate on the Case Allocation System what steps have been taken to gather that information and what is required to complete the full analysis;
- CRCs should improve the quality of full risk of harm assessments;
- CRCs should ensure they have effective management oversight structures in place for cases where there are concerns over the level of risk of harm; and
- CRC managers must ensure that offenders engage with their assigned officer at the earliest opportunity.
In order to drive improvements, inspectors made further recommendations, including: the NPS and CRCs should ensure that in all relevant cases sufficient progress is made to reduce those factors making the offender more likely to reoffend; the NPS should improve the availability of information provided by other agencies to ensure as much of the Case Allocation System can be completed prior to allocation of the case; and CRCs should ensure that in all cases where required there is a sufficient review of the risk of harm assessment and management plan.
Paul Wilson said:
“Our primary focus continues to be on the systems and processes which underpin the quality of service and impact on rehabilitation. This is intentional. No-one should underestimate the importance of systems which are the foundation of the operating models of the National Probation Service (NPS) and Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and govern the flows of work between them.
“We have not yet reported on the implementation of Through the Gate resettlement services to short-term prisoners, a key element of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme. With sufficient cases now in the system, progress will be reported early in 2016. Early scoping work suggests that implementation of some schemes in prisons and in the community has been slow and it is not yet clear how the delivery models planned by all CRCs will meet complex resettlement needs. The present rather disjointed provision is a long way from the seamless Through the Gate service so essential to the challenge of reducing high reoffending rates for this group.
“To date I have published reports which draw attention to serious transitional issues. I am clear the transitional period should end early in 2016 and that the NPS and CRCs should then be fully held to account for their work. To this end the inspection regime will change markedly in April 2016. Our new Quality & Impact inspections will focus on the effectiveness of the new probation organisations in reducing offending, protecting the public and ensuring individuals abide by the sentence of the court.”
Notes to Editors:
- A copy of this report can be found on HM Inspectorate of Probation’s website at http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation from 15 January 2016.
- HMI Probation is an independent inspectorate, sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, and reporting directly to the Secretary of State on the effectiveness of work with adults, children and young people who have offended, aimed at reducing reoffending and protecting the public. Further information about the work of HMI Probation is at http://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation.
- Please contact Jane Parsons in HMI Probation Press Office on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452 if you would like more information.