Warwickshire and West Mercia probation service: good in parts but room for improvement

A probation service in Warwickshire and West Mercia is performing well in some areas but needs to do more to support rehabilitation and protect the public, according to inspectors.

HM Inspectorate of Probation conducted a routine inspection of Warwickshire and West Mercia Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC). The Inspectorate looked at 10 aspects of the CRC’s work and has given the organisation an overall rating of ‘Requires improvement’.

Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said: “Warwickshire and West Mercia CRC performed well on three out of ten of our quality standards. But on the remaining seven, we found room for improvement.”

Inspectors were pleased to find more than two-thirds of inspected cases were managed by qualified officers or trainees – well above the average for other CRCs. The assessment of cases was also a strength; more than 80 per cent of inspected assessments included relevant details about why individuals committed offences and the factors that could help them to avoid further offending. The supervision of people sentenced to unpaid work in the community and support to individuals leaving prison were also found to be effective and were rated ‘Good’.

The Inspectorate found staff at all levels are passionate about delivering a good service. Probation staff are particularly skilled at engaging individuals under supervision and ensuring they comply with their community orders or licences after leaving prison.

Mr Russell said: “However, the CRC needs to ensure individuals complete planned work that will help them to move away from further offending. The CRC also needs to improve its approach to keeping people safe. Probation staff are not focussing sufficiently on protecting victims and potential victims, and some aspects of their work to safeguard children leaves me with concern.”

Inspectors interviewed front-line staff and managers and conducted an in-depth analysis of a large sample of individual cases. They found that while staff worked to provide a high-quality service, managers lacked the capacity to support that work and less than half the staff interviewed said their workload was manageable.

Inspectors found wide variation in the overall quality of case management between local teams and that too little work was done to improve family life and relationships. Drug rehabilitation and testing requirements were not being implemented consistently.

Mr Russell said: “Individuals being supervised complete too little work to reduce the likelihood that they will reoffend. The right work was delivered at the right time in only half of the cases we looked at.”

Inspectors also found the CRC faced challenges in delivering accredited programmes. Judges and magistrates can order perpetrators to complete these evidence-based programmes as part of their sentence, with the aim of changing their behaviour.

Mr Russell said: “We found individuals faced long waits to start their accredited programmes. It was not uncommon for individuals to wait between six months and a year to join a course for perpetrators of domestic abuse. It is unsurprising to see that only a third of starters completed the course last year.”

The CRC supervises nearly 3,000 low and medium-risk offenders across four counties: Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire. It is owned by PeoplePlus, a private company.

The Inspectorate has made seven recommendations with the aim of improving the CRC’s performance.

Mr Russell concluded: “I hope that senior leaders will work quickly to take account of the findings of this inspection They have shown they can deliver in some areas – now they need to deliver across the whole of what they do.”



Notes to editor

  1. The report is available at justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation on 17 July 2019 00.01.
  2. HM Inspectorate of Probation is the independent inspector of youth offending and probation services across England and Wales.
  3. There are 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies across England and Wales responsible for supervising low and medium-risk offenders.
  4. Warwickshire and West Mercia CRC supervised 2,976 individuals as of 30 September 2018.
  5. PeoplePlus is a privately-owned organisation, working across the UK to provide public sector services.
  6. Probation services are usually delivered by probation officers (who have a higher education professional qualification and manage more complex cases) and probation services officers (they train on the job and complete a Level 3 Diploma in Probation Practice during their first 12 months). For brevity, the use of the term “probation staff” in this press release covers staff at both grades.
  7. Fieldwork for this inspection took place in March and April 2019.

For media enquiries, please contact Head of Communications Catherine Chan on 07889 405930 or media@hmiprobation.gov.uk (E-mail address)