Wales NPS - Well led and enthusiastic staff managing offenders well, but some suffering from high workloads.

Inspectors found the National Probation Service (NPS) in Wales, supervising nearly 7,000 high-risk offenders, to have dynamic, effective leaders and enthusiastic staff committed to high-quality work.

However, like other parts of the NPS across England and Wales, the service in Wales suffered from a shortage of probation officers, meaning some staff had unacceptably high workloads, despite the leadership’s efforts to mitigate the impact of shortages.

A report published by Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, following an inspection in December 2018, recommended that HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) should recruit sufficient staff to fill NPS vacancies.

Inspectors assessed NPS Wales as ‘Good’ overall, the second-highest rating. Its case handling was mostly good and, in one respect, ‘Outstanding,’ the highest assessment.

Dame Glenys said NPS Wales staff held leaders in high regard. “They feel there is a learning culture, and professional development is encouraged. Effective systems are in place to monitor and improve performance and the process of learning lessons from case reviews, audits and complaints was effective.” Despite shortages and high caseloads for some staff, overall morale was high and sickness levels were low.

“Stakeholder engagement is good and includes the Welsh Government as some services are devolved. A wide range of services is in place to meet offending-related needs – though access was limited in some rural areas.”

Inspectors found that pre-sentence reports assisted judges and magistrates to decide on the most appropriate sentence. Individual offenders were sufficiently involved in the planning and delivery of their sentence. Assessments identified and analysed offending-related factors and sentence planning was focused on keeping others safe. Work to keep sentences under review was outstanding.

Staff welcomed support which they felt had made them “far more psychologically informed and confident” to deal with offenders who had severe personality disorders and highly complex needs. Inspectors found a shortage of mental health provision across Wales but highlighted innovative training to inform staff about the impact of brain injury on individuals.

There were some shortfalls in NPS Wales, Dame Glenys added. Information from child and adult safeguarding agencies was not consistently requested and relevant information about individuals subject to supervision was not routinely shared with the prisons or police.

There were “extremely lengthy delays” before individuals could start offending behaviour programmes. “Delays of this nature are plainly unacceptable.” Inspectors found long waiting lists to get onto Horizon, a nationally accredited group programme designed for medium-risk male sex offenders.

Overall, Dame Glenys said:

“NPS Wales is performing to a good standard. I hope that our findings and recommendations help the division to improve further.”


Notes to editors:

1. The report is available at at 00.01 on Wednesday 17 April 2019.

2. HM Inspectorate of Probation is the independent inspector of youth offending and probation services in England and Wales.

3. The NPS comprises seven divisions: six in England and one in Wales.

4. NPS in Wales covers the whole of Wales, which has a mix of urban and rural areas creating different challenges and opportunities. There are five geographical local delivery units, covering 22 local authorities. NPS in Wales is coterminous with Wales Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC). There are four approved premises (APs) and five prisons, one of which is privately managed.

5. Fieldwork for this inspection started in November 2018.

6. For media enquiries please contact John Steele, Chief Communications Officer, on 020 3334 0357 or 07880 787452 or (E-mail address)