Inspection of Adult Offending Work: London Probation Trust must do more to challenge offending behaviour

London Probation Trust needed to do more to address and change people’s offending behaviour in order to protect the public, said Paul McDowell, Chief Inspector of Probation, publishing the report of a recent inspection of the 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 fourth of six where inspectors are looking more closely at the work of Probation Trusts to protect children and young people.

Inspectors were concerned to find that:

  • offender managers were not challenging individuals to take responsibility for their actions or maintaining a focus on changing behaviour that could reduce the likelihood of reoffending;
  • far too many initial assessments of the likelihood of reoffending were either not completed or insufficient, and were either completed late or ‘pulled through’ from an earlier assessment with little or no change;
  • the risk of harm screening was completed and was accurate in just under three-quarters of cases;
  • concerns expressed by victims and the likely impact of offender’s behaviour were taken into account in fewer than half the cases;
  • effective management oversight was not evident in the majority of cases;
  • multi-agency work was not contributing enough to address risk of harm to others and more offender managers should be undertaking inter-agency checks, specifically with the police and/or Children’s Services;
  • home visits were not always carried out where needed (in response to concerns about a high risk of harm to others or about child protection issues), nor were they repeated where appropriate; and
  • evidence that reasonable action had been taken to minimise the offender’s risk of harm and promote the safety of children and young people should have been clear in far more cases.

However, inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • most court reports were sufficient, but could have been better if the analysis of the likelihood of reoffending and risk of harm had been more thorough. Offender managers did not always have documentation from the police or Crown Prosecution Service about the offence, which meant their analysis may be flawed;
  • first appointments with people who had offended had been arranged quickly and a full induction had been carried out, while arranged contact was sufficient;
  • all aspects of enforcement were executed reasonably well;
  • the Trust was responsive to the needs of the offender population by providing a wide range of interventions including those for extremism, gangs and foreign nationals;
  • most staff had attended safeguarding or child protection training in the past two years; and
  • sickness absence overall had been significantly reduced and managers were actively seeking temporary staff to cover vacancies where they existed.

Inspectors made recommendations to assist London in its continuing improvement. These included: making routine checks with Children’s services and other relevant agencies to safeguard and protect children, involving those being supervised in setting objectives in their sentence plans, and thoroughly assessing the risk of harm to others in all cases.

Paul McDowell said:

“The Trust had responded actively to previous inspection findings with mixed success. Several aspects of practice remained unacceptable. We were particularly concerned that not enough work was being done with people to address their offending behaviour.

“We recognise, however, that London Probation Trust had experienced a number of factors which may have had a negative effect on practice, including the demands of implementing new IT systems and the throughput of staff leaving the Trust. With the introduction of Transforming Rehabilitation, there was uncertainty for staff at the time of our inspection about whether they would be working for the new National Probation Service or the Community Rehabilitation Company. But it was clear that senior managers and Board members had worked hard to prepare staff for the changes while at the same time maintaining frontline services and continuing to support innovation. Despite our findings, we were impressed by the commitment of staff and managers to improvement, which augurs well for the future.”

– ENDS –

Notes to editors:

  1. The report is available at from 30 May 2014.
  2. This inspection of adult offending work in London 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. For more on the Ministry of Justice’s Transforming Rehabilitation strategy, please see:

For further information please contact Jane Parsons at HMI Probation press office on 020 3681 2775 or 07880 787452.