When and how we inspect

We inspect in each region of the Probation Service annually. There are 12 regions across England and Wales, and each region each has a number of Probation Delivery Units (PDUs). In each region we conduct a regional review, and then inspect one-third of the PDUs.

There are significantly more youth offending services, so we plan our youth offending inspections differently. Youth offending services are selected on a risk basis determined by a set of criteria including volume, performance information and the date since last inspection.


We announce our inspections well in advance of visiting the service. During this pre-fieldwork period, we liaise with the service and plan all aspects of the inspection. This includes identifying cases to be inspected, creating a schedule for our inspectors and pulling together any evidence we can before visiting.


During fieldwork our team of inspectors meet with managers, staff and sometimes those who are being supervised. We also look at the case files that we selected and record information in a specially designed tool. This information is made available to the lead inspector to be able to probe further while on the inspection.

At the end of the fieldwork, the lead inspector will have all the information they need to write a report and rate the service against our standards.

Guidance manuals

To assist the services that we inspect we have produced guidance manuals or inspections of youth offending services and the Probation Service. They provide an overview and details all the stages of an inspection, including what happens before, during and after an inspection. They also detail how we report our findings.