20 December 2023 - An end of year message from interim Chief Inspector, Sue McAllister

I took over as interim Chief Inspector on 01 October 2023 so am coming to the end of my third month in the role. I wanted to share some of the things I have done since I started and set out a brief summary of what we have achieved in the last quarter of 2023.

Since October, we have published our reports of two thematic inspections, one on Youth Remand and one on IPP recall decisions. We also contributed to a joint thematic inspection of how well the CJS meets the needs of victims, which was led by HMICFRS. We published reports of six core inspections of youth offending services, in Northamptonshire, Southwark, Cambridgeshire, Isle of Wight, Solihull and Staffordshire respectively. As well as our inspection reports, we have published two Academic Insights papers and an Effective Practice Guide on Youth Remand.

Under our new probation inspection programme, we have changed the way we inspect probation regions, introducing regional ratings and we will inspect every PDU in a region at one time, before completing a regional inspection. The first inspection of a complete region, Kent Surrey and Sussex, started in December and will continue until February.

We are now revising our youth inspection programme and we have launched a consultation on the changes we propose. The consultation is open until 14 January and can be accessed here consultation on our inspection of youth justice services (justiceinspectorates.gov.uk) (PDF, 379 kB)

As Chief Inspector, I have spent time in both our Manchester and London offices and have also been out on inspections, with colleagues inspecting youth justice services in Carmarthenshire and conducting field work for our thematic inspection of women on probation. It has been great to see how our inspections work in practice and to meet some of the people who work in the criminal justice system, as practitioners and in the partner organisations which are crucial to the delivery of services in some key areas. I have met with my fellow Chief Inspectors leading other inspectorates in the CJS; HMICFRS, HMI Prisons and CPSI and I have spoken to the Chief Inspector of CJINI, which inspects police, courts and prisons in Northern Ireland. I have appreciated learning from them and talking about how we collaborate, as well as opportunities to do more in the future. I have been very keen to hear how they think inspection can support improvements to the way services are delivered and to outcomes.

In the three months since 01 October, I have met two Ministers: Damian Hinds and then, the current Minister for Prisons and Probation, Edward Argar. Both were interested in the findings from our inspections and where we had made recommendations for improvement. Both Ministers had thoughts on where we should direct our focus in the thematic inspections we do, and we will consider those as we finalise our programme for the coming inspection period.

As we approach the end of 2023, I am looking forward to getting out to more inspections in the new year including on our thematic inspection of young adults. In due course, I will hand over to a new, permanent, Chief Inspector but, until then, I will continue to enjoy leading the inspectorate in the important work it does.