‘Strengthening Probation, Building Confidence’: The task of re-designing probation

Published date01 March 2019
Date01 March 2019
DOI10.1177/0264550518825054
Subject MatterComment
PRB825054 131..137
Comment
The Journal of Community and Criminal Justice
Probation Journal
‘Strengthening
2019, Vol. 66(1) 131–137
ª The Author(s) 2019
Probation, Building
Article reuse guidelines:
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DOI: 10.1177/0264550518825054
Confidence’: The task of
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re-designing probation
Jim Barton
Director and Senior Responsible Officer, Probation Programme, HMPPS, Ministry of Justice, UK
Introduction
In July 2018 we launched a consultation, ‘Strengthening Probation, Building
Confidence’ (MoJ, 2018a), on the future of the probation service in England and
Wales. The consultation set out our plans to build on the current arrangements,
implemented through Transforming Rehabilitation (TR), while taking decisive
action to improve those elements of delivery that fall short of our ambition or the
long traditions of the probation service. The financial challenges facing Commu-
nity Rehabilitation Companies (CRC) have been acknowledged by the Justice
Select Committee (2018), the Public Accounts Committee (2018) and the
National Audit Office (2017). Due to unforeseen changes in case volumes, CRCs
received significantly less income than they had predicted. And increases in the
frequency with which service users reoffended in the period between 2011 and
2015 further undermined the ability of CRCs to invest in service delivery. These
challenges were explained in our consultation document and subsequent pre-
sentations (MoJ, 2018a, 2018b).
We need a robust and effective probation service in which sentencers and the
public have confidence. A cycle of under-funding leading to disinvestment cannot
achieve that aim. That is why we have decided it is necessary to end our contracts
with CRCs early and put in place new, strengthened arrangements for the provision
of probation services across England and Wales. To underpin delivery in the interim
we are investing £22 million a year to enhance resettlement services (Through The
Gate) and now require all providers of probation services to offer monthly face-to-
face meetings with offenders during the first 12 months of supervision. We have
adjusted the mechanism which determines funding levels for CRCs to reduce the risk
of under-funding service delivery.
Over the remaining term of these contracts, to December 2020, we will con-
tinue to robustly manage all providers to ensure the orders of the court are deliv-
ered and the public protected. HMI Probation’s new inspection regime provides

132
Probation Journal 66(1)
clear, signal assessments of the performance of the National Probation Service
(NPS) and CRCs. Six inspection reports published in 2018 for CRCs are all rated
‘Improvement Required’ and demonstrate the distance left to travel to improve
service delivery (Northumbria, Thames Valley, West Yorkshire, Essex, Merseyside
and Staffordshire and West Midlands) (HMIP, 2018a, 2018b, 2018c, 2018d,
2018e, 2018f).
‘Strengthening Probation, Building Confidence’ (MoJ, 2018a) prompted signif-
icant debate and insight into the steps needed to improve the probation service.
Between July and September 2018 we received over 450 written responses, held
38 events with 1100 delegates, received the views of over 160 service users and
worked with staff across England and Wales. This provided vital feedback which
will influence our design. We have continued to engage with key stakeholders after
the consultation closed, allowing us to test our thinking as we progress.
Our proposals
Transforming Rehabilitation was a significant programme of structural reform. The
impact of this scale of change on staff has been acknowledged. We believe we
should limit the scale of any future structural reform to only that which is essential to
achieve an effective service. Instead, our future focus is on the service that we
receive from our providers – public, private or voluntary – and the support we
provide to the vocational workforce across the probation service.
Supervising offenders and delivering the sentence of the court
Pre-sentence reports must be of a good quality. We need to ensure that there are
appropriate processes to ensure this is done well, so much depends on this – not
least the court delivering an appropriate sentence. Assessment also forms a key part
to good sentence delivery. We must...

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