Kent’s work to protect the public needs to improve

Kent Probation Trust had made some progress, but still needed to improve its work to protect the public, said Paul McDowell, Chief Inspector of Probation, publishing the report of a recent inspection of Kent Probation Trust.

Inspections 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. This inspection is the third of six where inspectors are looking more closely at the work of Probation Trusts to protect children and young people.
Inspectors were pleased to find that:
  • most court reports, and all of those on individuals assessed as posing a high risk of harm to others, were of high quality;
  • in most cases, the Trust identified whether people would have problems engaging with their sentence and undertook motivational work to encourage them to comply with and complete their sentence;
  • almost three-quarters of individuals had not been charged with a new offence or reconvicted; and
  • volunteer mentors gave much needed help in securing accommodation for people who had offended.
However, inspectors were concerned to find that:
  • in too many cases, the initial assessment of likelihood of reoffending was either delayed or inadequate which had an impact on the production of appropriate sentence plans;
  • constructive interventions encouraged and challenged the individual to take responsibility for their actions in too few cases;
  • analysis of the risk of harm posed by individuals was not consistent or thorough and too few cases included an effective plan to manage the risk of harm someone posed;
  • greater attention needed to be paid to consulting multi-agency sources of information to manage risk of harm;
  • home visits were not always carried out where needed in high risk cases or in response to concerns about child protection; and
  • not all risk management plans addressed the risk to specific or potential victims.
Inspectors made recommendations to assist Kent in its continuing improvement. These included improving the management of risk of harm to others and making routine checks with children’s social care services and other relevant agencies to ensure that child protection concerns were taken into account.
Paul McDowell said:
“Following a disappointing inspection in 2010, strategic leaders had become determined to improve the quality of work across the Trust. The results of this effort were evident in some areas of practice, such as reports to court where work was of a high standard and greatly appreciated by sentencers. However, there remained significant areas of work, particularly in relation to assessments and plans to manage risk of harm to others, where improvement efforts had not yet led to consistency in performance. Although strategic relationships with partner agencies were healthy, too often links at a practical level were less effective, leading to difficulties in gaining prompt access to information to enlighten assessments of risk of harm and child safeguarding. This impacted on the Trust’s ability to deliver an effective service to protect the public.
“We have made a number of recommendations designed to address the shortfalls identified in this inspection. We would encourage senior managers to prioritise the development and implementation of a robust action plan to deliver the necessary improvements.”

Notes to editors

  1. Read the report
  2. This inspection of adult offending work in Kent 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. From June 2014 the work currently undertaken by Probation Trusts will be divided between the new National Probation Service and 21 new Community Rehabilitation Companies. Inspection recommendations will be taken forward by NOMS performance managers and account managers for the new companies.
    Find out more on the Ministry of Justice’s Transforming Rehabilitation strategy
  5. For further information please contact Jane Parsons at HMI Probation press office on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452.