Inspection of adult offending work: a mixed picture in Northamptonshire

Northamptonshire Probation Trust had made some improvements in their work with adults who had offended, but still needed to improve some aspects of public protection work, said Liz Calderbank, Chief Inspector of Probation, publishing the report of a recent inspection of Northamptonshire Probation Trust.

This inspection is the last 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:
  • sentencers were satisfied overall with the quality of reports and with the confidence and experience of probation staff working in court;
  • the trust had an appropriate range of accredited programmes available to address the different types of offending;
  • the majority of cases had made either good progress or some progress in tackling the most significant factors associated with their likelihood of reoffending;
  • in most cases where alcohol misuse was a factor, this was taken into account and relevant interventions had been delivered; and
  • most victim contact work was undertaken appropriately and the quality of the work was good.
However, inspectors also found that:
  • although the risk of serious harm classification was correct in most cases, initial screenings were not completed sufficiently well in some cases, with full details of the current offence and relevant previous behaviour not always taken into account, or analysed sufficiently;
  • insufficient attention was paid to child safeguarding in relation to the offender’s contact with any children and young people in a quarter of cases; and
  • insufficient priority was accorded to the safety of current and potential victims by the offender manager in a third of cases; and
  • work with offenders was not actively reviewed as appropriate and assessments were not always reviewed promptly following a change in circumstances.
Inspectors made recommendations to assist Northamptonshire in its continuing improvement. These included: on ensuring that risk of harm to others is assessed accurately and promptly reviewed as appropriate; on giving additional attention to work to protect children and young people; and on ensuring that there is effective management oversight of all cases involving the protection of children and of those classified as posing a high risk of harm.
Liz Calderbank said:
‘We found that the Trust had been addressing the recommendations from our last inspection to improve the quality of risk of harm work in individual cases. However, there was room for further improvement in the quality of risk of harm assessment and planning and management scrutiny. Insufficient priority was accorded to the safety of victims. We were impressed by the way both managers and staff were clearly keen to learn from our findings. Our inspection report contains a number of recommendations addressing our concerns that are designed to promote the necessary improvements.’
Notes to Editors
  1. A copy of the report (PDF, 1 MB).
  2. This inspection of adult offending work in Northamptonshire 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 07880 787452.