The National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies came into existence on 01 June 2014, as part of the Ministry of Justice’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme. This was the first step in a series of changes designed to open up the probation market to new providers, reduce reoffending rates and allow the National Probation Service to focus on managing high risk of serious harm offenders, those eligible under Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements and foreign national offenders subject to deportation. Community Rehabilitation Companies were transferred from public to private ownership on 01 February 2015.

 

Transforming Rehabilitation

These inspections can be seen as a continuation of HMI Probation’s work to understand and report on the developing Transforming Rehabilitation landscape.

The scope of each of our Transforming Rehabilitation inspections is similar, but the detailed focus has varied to enable us to explore specific areas of practice as the Transforming Rehabilitation programme has progressed. Each of the four inspections has visited a different set of local delivery units. It is not, therefore, possible to compare directly the findings or to say conclusively that any differences are representative of performance across England and Wales. We have, however, commented where we have seen indications of progress made on the areas for improvement we have identified in our earlier Transforming Rehabilitation inspections.

Transforming Rehabilitation – Early Implementation reports

 

Workload Audit

During past inspections we were told that the workload of staff in probation trusts had increased, due to staff leaving and an increase in sickness absence. We conducted a desk-top inspection of caseloads being managed at that point by probation trusts in comparison with those held 12 months previously.

This piece of work was completed on time and has already been published. You can view it on our website here Workload Audit.

 

Case Transfers

Probation trusts had recently completed a process of determining which cases would transfer to the NPS and which to the CRC on 01 June 2014. We inspected the outcomes of this process by:

  • undertaking an audit of the way in which it had been undertaken
  • examining the accuracy of the transfer decision in a sample of cases.

We visited Chester, Poole, Doncaster and Shrewsbury with two inspectors on site for three days at each location. Inspectors looked at a number of cases to identify whether they had been transferred accurately and in a timely fashion. Fieldwork is now complete and the findings will feed into a wider report being published in November.

 

Court work, assessment and case allocation (July – October 2014)

From June 2014, case allocation has been undertaken on the basis of the Risk of Serious Recidivism assessment and allocation tool, generally completed at court. We have undertaken an inspection of work at court, focusing on:

  • the quality of probation work in the court setting, including the information provided to sentencers, and the initial contact with the offender. This is an important interaction, making sure that the offender is given accurate information about the sentence and is motivated to comply.
  • the quality and accuracy of the assessment and allocation decisions in a sample of cases.

This inspection was undertaken from July to September 2014 in five courts.

We have now completed fieldwork having visited Leicester (for a pilot inspection), Lincoln, Birmingham, Carlisle, Oxford and Cambridge.

At each of these inspections we had up to six inspectors on site for two or three days at a time.

 

Start of orders (July – October 2014)

Research has shown that for work with offenders to be effective, it must start promptly and must quickly capture the individual’s motivation and commitment. Good communication between the organisations involved will be important to make sure that orders start well. We therefore conducted an inspection of early work with offenders by both NPS and CRCs.

This inspection ran in parallel to the inspection of work in courts, in the same geographical locations. We focused on the first month of work, and included inspection of: the allocation decision; engagement with the offender; sentence planning; level of contact with the offender; effectiveness of early work to deliver the sentence of the court, reduce offending and protect the public.

Where offenders fail to comply with the order, or where a CRC judges that risk is escalating, good communication between the CRC and NPS will be critical. This may have applied to few cases in the ‘Start of orders’ inspections, but where it did, our inspections included an examination of the effectiveness of the interface between CRC and NPS.

Court Work Assessment Allocation & Start of Order – Tool August 2014 (PDF, 2.21 MB)