London probation service continues to improve performance

A London probation service has made “considerable efforts” to improve the quality of its work over the past year, according to inspectors.

HM Inspectorate of Probation conducted a routine inspection of London Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), which supervises nearly 29,000 low and medium-risk offenders across the capital.

The Inspectorate looked at 10 aspects of the CRC’s work and rated performance against half of these as ‘good’ and half as ‘requiring improvement’. Based on these findings, the Inspectorate has given the organisation an overall rating of ‘Requires improvement’.

Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said: “London CRC continues to improve and has taken on board many of the recommendations from last year’s inspection. Now, the CRC offers good support for people leaving prison and better supervision for people who complete unpaid work in the community. The CRC has also developed effective relationships with partners and stakeholders.

“There is a strong leadership team, and staff are empowered to deliver services that will bring about lasting changes in the lives of vulnerable people. The staff we interviewed were well motivated and positive about their work and the organisation.

“However, London CRC needs to better support individuals to rehabilitate and to move away from further offending. We found a good range of services available to support people with basic needs and to tackle their offending behaviour, but it is disappointing to find that these services are not being delivered consistently in the inspected cases.

“Probation staff also need to assess and manage the risks that every offender poses to the community; we found the quality of this work needs to improve.”

Probation staff had not adequately assessed the risk of harm posed to actual and potential victims in nearly half (48 per cent) of inspected cases. Staff were also not paying enough attention to information from partners, such as the police or children’s social care services, or of past aggressive behaviour.

The Inspectorate found recruiting and retaining good-quality staff continues to be an issue in the capital. Workloads are high – more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of interviewed staff said they managed more than 55 cases.

Inspectors found leaders had put an “impressive” HR strategy in place and fewer staff had left the organisation over the past nine months. Around one in four probation staff are agency workers, and the CRC is in the process of converting some of these roles into permanent positions.

The Inspectorate is calling for further action to improve office accommodation and ensure staff stay safe while carrying out their duties.

Mr Russell said: “London CRC shares 19 of its 22 offices with the London National Probation Service, which is responsible for supervising high-risk offenders. The Ministry of Justice is responsible for managing these premises but, at the time of inspection, we found some urgent problems with the building and a long list of less-urgent repairs that required attention.

“Systems and processes that are supposed to protect staff require improvement. Staff often work on a one-to-one basis with people under supervision and have been given safety devices for their protection. Inspectors found some devices did not work; staff also reported that some offices had a very limited number of devices, which could prevent them from carrying out home visits as and when needed.”

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


Notes to editor
1. The report is available at on 21 August 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. London CRC supervised 28,819 individuals as of March 2019. The CRC works with individuals who have left or are about to leave prison, or are serving community or suspended sentences.
5. London CRC is owned by MTC, which is made up of private and third-sector partners.
6. Fieldwork for this inspection took place in April and May 2019.
7. Probation services are usually delivered by a mix of qualified probation officers and probation services officers, who train and gain qualifications on the job. For brevity, the use of the term “probation staff” in this press release covers staff at both grades.
8. For media enquiries, please contact Head of Communications Catherine Chan on 07889 405930 or (E-mail address)