Probation services in Gloucestershire - action is required

Higher risk individuals were managed well overall by the National Probation Service (NPS), but the situation is quite different for those posing a medium and lower risk of harm. They are managed by the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) where services to manage risk of harm, help offenders move away from crime and deliver the sentence of the court are simply not being delivered well enough in a sufficient number of cases. Despite heroic efforts by staff, the service was nowhere near the standard expected, said Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation. Today she published the report of a recent inspection of probation work in Gloucestershire.

The inspection looked at the quality of probation work carried out by the CRC and the NPS and assessed the effectiveness of work undertaken locally with people who have committed crimes. This was the second inspection of adult probation work undertaken by a CRC owned by Working Links and the first of the NPS South West & Central Division.

Overall, the work of the CRC in Gloucestershire was poor. Working Links has not implemented its plans (as set out in their original contract bid) for continuity of support for people throughout their period of supervision. Instead we found cases being transferred between case managers too often, and staff carrying too many cases. Allocation decisions were based on a model which was not fully understood by staff, partly because it was complex, changing and not fully implemented.

The CRC operating model is not working as it should, and the high caseloads of responsible officers are unreasonable. Managers and staff are working hard, but sickness absence levels are high, and the quality of work is poor overall – because staff are over-burdened and not given the professional support expected. Assessment and planning was mixed, but in any event, plans were not being followed through well enough and some offenders were not being seen often enough. As a result, the public are more at risk than necessary, and those people who may turn their lives around may be denied the chance to do so.

The quality of work from the NPS with higher-risk offenders in Gloucestershire was reasonably good overall. The court team was providing a good service, case assessments were thorough, plans were realistic and the public were protected from harm. Those under supervision were seen often enough, with any failure to attend dealt with appropriately. But in the majority of the cases inspectors reviewed, NPS’ efforts to rehabilitate offenders often came to little or nothing, either because the offender disengaged or because, in those cases where specific interventions were planned to help someone turn away from crime, they were not actually delivered.

Inspectors made recommendations which included: the CRC reducing individual caseloads to manageable levels, ensuring managers are allocated responsibilities which are reasonable and achievable so that they can support frontline staff, and improving unpaid work arrangements. The NPS should develop a clear strategy to deliver rehabilitation activity requirements effectively and ensure that work to protect the public and manage risk of harm is reviewed appropriately in all cases.

Dame Glenys Stacey said:

“The National Probation Service was performing reasonably well, and the public can be reassured that those people who pose a higher risk are generally being supervised to an acceptable standard in Gloucestershire, although more could de done to reduce the risk that individuals reoffend.

“The picture was much more troubling at the Community Rehabilitation Company, where there have been drastic staff cuts to try and balance the books.  Those remaining are under mounting pressure and carrying unacceptable workloads that prevent them doing a good job.

“This CRC’s work is so far below par that its owner and government need to work together urgently to improve matters, so that those under supervision and the general public receive the service they rightly expect, and the staff that remain can do the job they so wish to do.”

– ENDS –

Notes to editors:


  1. The report is available at from 31 August 2017.
  2. Since the introduction of Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) in June 2014, HM Inspectorate of Probation has reported on its implementation and produced the last of five Transforming Rehabilitation reports in May 2016. In April 2016, a new programme of regular inspection of adult probation services, known as Quality & Impact inspection, began. Gloucestershire is the twelfth area to be inspected in that programme.
  3. The former Gloucestershire Probation Trust was last inspected 2010. Since then, probation services had undergone significant changes as a result of the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation In June 2014, Probation Trusts were abolished and probation work was divided between two separate organisations. The NPS primarily took over the management of offenders posing a high risk of serious harm to others and those subject to Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). The NPS also had responsibility for staffing the courts, including writing pre-sentence reports, and for victim contact work. The rest of the probation work was allocated to 21 newly created CRCs. In February 2015, the CRCs were sold to private companies.
  4. The report looks at probation services delivered in Gloucestershire by the NPS South West & Central division and the Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset & Wiltshire CRC. The CRC is owned by Working Links. Working Links delivers probation services across three CRCs: Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset & Wiltshire; Dorset, Devon & Cornwall; and Wales.
  5. For further information please contact Alex Pentecost at HMI Probation press office on 0161 240 5336.