South Yorkshire CRC - Beginning to address problems arising from shortage of qualified probation officers

South Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) was found by inspectors to have weak case supervision, with some inadequate aspects and a lack of qualified probation staff.

However, though the inspection in November and December rated the Sodexo-owned CRC as ‘Requires Improvement’ inspectors also found an outstanding leadership team which was driving improvements.

Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, said: “The CRC is making significant changes to its operating model. Individuals will no longer be subject to telephone-only supervision, and leaders have taken swift action – following our findings in Sodexo’s Northumbria CRC – to improve the important work of assessing each individual subject to probation supervision.”

The rate and frequency of reoffending by people under supervision in the CRC area was found to be comparatively high. In response, Dame Glenys said, “senior leaders are working with partner agencies on a laudable initiative to prioritise resources to those who are most frequently arrested.”

The CRC, she added, “must be sure to take the right steps in these and other cases.” More accredited programmes were needed, along with interventions to improve individuals’ accommodation and employment prospects.

Inspectors identified inexperienced staff as a problem in case supervision work. The number of qualified probation officers had fallen considerably since Sodexo took ownership of the CRC in 2015.

Dame Glenys said: “Alarmingly, although individual workloads are not generally excessive, the large majority of probation staff here are not qualified, and many are not sufficiently experienced at managing risk of harm to others.

“The CRC is training staff to achieve the Professional Qualification in Probation (PQiP), and putting substantial effort into quality management but, at present, the skills gaps are reflected in the poor quality of assessment and planning work with individuals.”

The report noted that weak assessments, leading to poor planning, “often resulted in insufficient attention being given to the likelihood of individuals posing a risk of harm to others. This was made worse when information from domestic violence units or children’s social care services had not been obtained, or when contact levels had been too low to monitor individuals effectively.”

However, Dame Glenys added that more recent assessments had shown improvement. Inspectors found the CRC had recently introduced a more comprehensive assessment model.

Overall, Dame Glenys said:

“Unpaid work delivery in this CRC is good, but urgent improvements are needed to the rest of its work, and in probation supervision overall. There have been too many changes of practitioners for individuals under supervision, and those practitioners have also experienced changes in line managers. That needs to stop now, so far as possible, and leaders must concentrate on improving the skills base, and with it the quality of work delivered.”


Notes to editors:

  1. The report is available at at 00.01 on Wednesday 27 March 2019.
  2. HM Inspectorate of Probation is the independent inspector of youth offending and probation services in England and Wales.
  3. There are 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies across England and Wales
  4. responsible for supervising low and medium-risk offenders.
  5. Fieldwork for South Yorkshire CRC inspection took place in November and December 2018. The CRC supervised 3,812 people at that time. This is the third inspection of Sodexo CRCs in the current (2018-19) inspection programme.
  6. Sodexo Justice Services is part of a large multinational private company with a wide range of commercial interests. It took over formal ownership of South Yorkshire CRC on 1 February 2015. It operates a strategic partnership with the charity, Nacro. With contracts to deliver probation services across six CRCs, it is the third largest owning company in the country by contract value, and has 19% of the CRC market share. Sodexo also runs 4 of the 14 private prisons in England.
  7. For further information please contact John Steele, HMI Probation Chief Communications Officer, on 020 3334 0357 or 07880 787452, or at