Inspection of Adult Offending Work: Durham Tees Valley - some good work

Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust was undertaking some good work with adult offenders, but needed to assess the risk of harm they posed more thoroughly, said Paul McDowell, Chief Inspector of Probation, publishing the report of a recent inspection.

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 fifth 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:

  • in the majority of cases, court reports provided sentencers with good quality information to aid sentencing;
  • early contact was made at the start of supervision in almost every case and sentence plans were generally timely;
  • interventions were generally delivered according to the requirements of the community sentence and licence conditions, and in line with sentence plan objectives;
  • in nearly every relevant case there had been a timely assessment of the factors that may contribute to the likelihood of reoffending;
  • restrictive requirements were used appropriately and were proportionate to the risk of harm posed by the offender; and
  • the quality of the contact with victims was satisfactory in relevant statutory victim contact cases.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • risk of harm screenings were sometimes not sufficiently thorough;
  • more needed to be done to ensure that, where there were potential child protection and safeguarding issues, enquiries were made to children’s social care services;
  • more cases should have had a personalised assessment of barriers to engagement and specific needs; and
  • it was not always clear when a case would be reviewed, nor was it always apparent what changes in circumstances would prompt reviews.

Inspectors made recommendations to assist the area in their its continuing improvement, including accurately assessing the risk of harm to others posed by an individual, giving additional attention to work to protect children and young people and reviewing work, plans and assessments appropriately.

Paul McDowell said:

“Work to assist sentencing was of a high standard, with reports offering clear proposals for community sentences as appropriate. Offenders were usually seen promptly at the start of their orders, but greater attention was needed to engage with their individual needs and deliver effective interventions. Although the Trust had ensured that risk of harm assessments were always undertaken, too many assessments did not take full account of relevant factors leading, on several occasions, to an underestimation of the risk of harm posed. Sentence plans must be reviewed more thoroughly to ensure that interventions remain appropriate and opportunities to record any progress made are taken. The Trust will also need to consider how it can improve the effectiveness of processes to protect children and young people.

– ENDS –

Notes to editors:

  1. The report is available at from 29 May 2014.
  2. This inspection of adult offending work in Durham Tees Valley 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. The fieldwork for this inspection was undertaken during the period immediately prior to the abolition of the Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust and inspectors therefore agreed to an amended inspection methodology whereby the work undertaken was inspected without interviewing the offender manager. As a consequence, inspectors are unable to comment on the management and leadership arrangements.
  5. 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

For further information, please contact Jane Parsons in HMI Probation press office on 020 7035 2123 or 07880 787452.