Rehabilitation redux? Future probation reforms

AuthorNicola Carr
Published date01 June 2019
Date01 June 2019
Subject MatterEditorial
Rehabilitation redux?
Future probation
Another day, another indictment of Transforming Rehabilitation. The National Audit
Office (NAO) published its report on the progress of Transforming Rehabilitation at
the beginning of March 2019 and concluded that TR has demonstrably failed to
meet the government’s stated objectives – to reform the probation landscape and
ultimately reduce costs and reoffending. The progress report from the NAO (its
fourth report on this subject) catalogues a litany of problems in implementation and
progress achieved. While there has been some reduction in reoffending, this has
fallen short of the Ministry’s targets. There has been patchy involvement of the third
sector in service delivery, limited innovation and a lack of progress in transforming
services. The provision of ‘Through the Gate’ services has been poor and there have
been significant increases in the numbers of people being recalled to prison, driven
by the extension of statutory supervision requirements to prisoners serving sentences
of less than 12 months.
The National Audit Office concludes that the Ministry of Justice designed and
implemented its reforms too quickly and without sufficient testing. The splitting of
services introduced new interfaces that are not yet working effectively, but per-
haps most fundamentally the NAO concludes that the ‘Ministry’s chosen com-
mercial approach proved to be inappropriate given the nature of probation
services’ (NAO, 2019: 9). As we know, the work of probation is complex and the
taken on its own terms, re-offending data is a poor proxy for evaluating service
performance and payment by results. There are time lags in the data on proven re-
offending becoming available; the data itself may reflect wider criminal justice
functioning (e.g. policing priorities) and ultimately it is impossible to attribute
changes in re-offending rates to the work of Community Rehabilitation Companies
In March 2019 also, Interserve, the parent company of five CRCs (accounting for
a quarter of the entire CRC caseload), went into administration.
This followed
Working Links, the owner of three CRCs, which had entered into administration in
the previous month.
Interserve, is a vast company, which holds a wide portfolio of
government contracts encompassing probation services, motorway repairs, welfare
to work programmes and sewer upgrades. Evidence of the scale of its operations is
the fact that it employs 45,000 people in the UK, including the staff working in its
CRCs. One of the unforeseen consequences of Interserve being placed into
Probation Journal
2019, Vol. 66(2) 163–166
ªThe Author(s) 2019
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0264550519847270
The Journal of Community and Criminal Justice

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