Inspection of adult offending work: Northumbria working well to prevent reoffending

Northumbria Probation Trust’s work with adults who had offended was of a high standard overall, said Liz Calderbank, Chief Inspector of Probation, publishing the report of a recent inspection of Northumbria Probation Trust.
This inspection is the fifth of six where inspectors are focusing on the quality of work with violent offenders, which forms a significant proportion of the work of any Probation Trust. The purpose of the inspection is to assess whether the sentence of the court is delivered effectively, and whether work with the individual offender protects the public, reduces the likelihood of reoffending and provides a high quality service to courts and victims. Inspectors also examine the extent to which workers engage positively with individuals, ensuring that they comply with their sentence and are able to respond constructively to the work designed to change their behaviour.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • court reports were of good quality and sentencers were happy with the service they received from probation staff;
  • many initial assessments and plans were of good quality;
  • people who had offended were encouraged to engage with their sentences and the work generally took their diverse needs into account;
  • sentences were being delivered as intended and the range and delivery of interventions was good;
  • many individuals had made progress against the factors linked to their offending;
  • the risk of harm posed by those who had offended was managed effectively in many cases; and
  • victim liaison work was of good quality.

However, inspectors also found that:

  • greater clarity was needed about when and why individual cases would be reviewed, particularly in response to significant changes in offenders’ circumstances or behaviour;
  • more home visiting needed to take place for those who presented a high risk of harm or where there were child safeguarding issues; and
  • not all risk management plans addressed the potential risk of harm for specific victims.
Inspectors made recommendations to assist Northumbria in its continuing improvement. These included: on reviewing the sentence plan to take account of relevant changes in the circumstances of an individual; on taking specific account of the safety of actual and potential victims;  and on prioritising home visiting for those who pose a high or very high risk of serious harm to others or where there were child protection concerns.
Liz Calderbank said: 
‘We found that the overall standard of work within the Trust was high. The Trust provided strong strategic leadership and enjoyed the respect and confidence of its partners and staff. Whilst operating in a challenging strategic context, the leadership of the organisation had helped staff to maintain a focus on the quality of services provided. Our inspection report contains a small number of recommendations designed to promote further improvement in practice.’

Notes to editors:

1. View the report.
2. This inspection of adult offending work in Northumbria was undertaken as part of HMI Probation’s Inspection of Adult Offending Work programme that started in April 2013 and will cover all geographical areas in England and Wales.
3. These inspections focus on issues not subject to other forms of external scrutiny: work to reduce the likelihood of reoffending, the management and minimisation of risk of harm to the public, delivery of the court sentence effectively and providing a service to courts and victims.
4. For further information or to request an interview, please contact Jane Parsons in HMI Probation press office on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452.