Staff in West Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) were found by inspectors to be well led and striving to do well but they struggled with heavy caseloads, ICT and infrastructure problems beyond their control, and some gaps in skills.
The weaknesses at the CRC, which supervised 8,136 medium and low risk offenders at the time of the inspection in July 2018, led HM Inspectorate of Probation to rate it overall as “Requiring Improvement.”
Aspects of its case supervision were assessed as inadequate. A key weakness was found in work to reduce the risk of harm to potential victims from those under supervision. Inspectors noted instances where, in domestic abuse cases, some staff members failed to identify the potential risks posed to children.
Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, publishing a report on the inspection, said: “A key area of practice that requires prompt improvement is managing risk of harm. Case planning in general is not sufficiently robust and reviews of work need to be improved across the board.”
However, despite noting some poor assessments, Dame Glenys also concluded the leadership of the CRC, part of a consortium of CRCs led by Interserve, was eager to learn and improve as it faced some major challenges:
- Leaders and staff had done much to develop their organisation, “in straitened circumstances, but more needs to be done to improve service delivery.” The report noted: “Staff and managers are passionate about providing quality services but many report being overwhelmed by workload pressures and being weary of organisational change.”
- Much of the CRC’s operating model is embedded but some key aspects (such as the organisation’s estate strategy and information and communication technology strategy) are not fully implemented. These compound the already demanding workload pressures on staff. The report noted that for full implementation to be achieved, the Ministry of Justice must promptly ensure that Interserve can use the Strategic Partner Gateway, or a suitable alternative, that will enable the various systems to work together.
- Some case managers have gaps in their knowledge and skills, and this limits their ability to deliver good-quality, personalised services. The management has begun to address these deficiencies.
Among positive findings, Dame Glenys noted that partnership working was strong. Specialist services, such as services for women, were in place and Through the Gate work with those leaving prison, as well as supervision of unpaid work imposed by courts, showed promise.
Overall, Dame Glenys said: “This CRC’s senior leaders understand the challenges faced by the organisation. They promote a culture of learning from mistakes and they actively respond to findings from audits and independent inspection. Consequently, we expect that the findings and recommendations in this report will assist their efforts to address practice shortfalls and improve the quality of the services provided.”
- The report is available at justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation at 00.01 on Wednesday 31 October 2018.
- HM Inspectorate of Probation is the independent inspector of youth offending and probation services in England and Wales.
- There are 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies across England and Wales responsible for supervising low and medium-risk offenders. West Yorkshire CRC is one of a group of five CRCs in the Purple Futures group, part of Interserve.
- Purple Futures is a consortium led by Interserve. It comprises Interserve Justice (a subdivision of Interserve, a global support service and construction company), 3SC (Third Sector Consortium: a company managing public service contracts on behalf ofthird-sector organisations), P3 (People Potential Possibilities: a charity and social enterprise organisation) and Shelter (a charity focusing on homelessness and accommodation issues).
- Fieldwork for this inspection took place in July 2018.
- When fieldwork took place, West Yorkshire CRC was responsible for supervising 8,136 people.