Remaining inspections of London probation services conclude a ‘hugely disappointing’ inspection of the capital

HM Inspectorate of Probation’s remaining inspections of London probation services, also known as Probation Delivery Units (PDUs*), have resulted in another set of poor ratings for the city.

Lewisham and Bromley PDU has been rated as ‘Inadequate’ – the lowest rating possible – with inspections of Newham PDU and Barking, Dagenham and Havering PDU both rated as ‘Requires improvement’.

They join Hammersmith, Fulham, Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster PDU, Lambeth PDU and Ealing and Hillingdon PDU – which were all rated ‘Inadequate’ in reports published in October 2022 – in completing our inspections of a third of the city’s probation services.

Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said: “These reports conclude a hugely disappointing period for our inspection programme, with all the London probation services we have inspected requiring immediate improvements. We knew that they were struggling to cope with the unification of probation services in 2021, and the lasting impact of Covid-19, but we have been shocked by the level of poor-quality services. The Probation Service must look at these six inspection reports and bring about swift and effective change in the capital.”

Only 25 per cent of cases we inspected were satisfactory in relation to their assessment of risk of serious harm. And domestic abuse checks with the police were not made in 64 per cent of the cases where they should have been.

Mr Russell continued: “A vicious circle has been created, whereby high vacancy numbers – 500 vacant positions in London remained unfilled at the time of our inspections – and high sickness absences mean higher caseloads for those staff that remain. As a result, cases cannot be managed properly, increasing the chances of a person on probation reoffending. The assessment and management of the risks of serious harm to the public are far from satisfactory in the cases we have inspected. And not enough safeguarding and domestic abuse enquiries are being made to safely manage risks of serious harm. London expects better from its probation services and deserves to be protected from such risks.

“We are confident these poor ratings aren’t due to a lack of effort by individuals within the service, who show a commitment to the people they supervise, but they need help. Their determination, though admirable, cannot be realised without vacancies being filled, better management oversight and better delivery of all the services that people on probation need to turn away from crime. Local services must get significant support from regional and national level, to face the challenges ahead and halt the level of decline.”

In October this year, Mr Russell called for “urgent action” after the first three London inspection reports all resulted in ‘Inadequate’ ratings – his full statement is available on the HM Inspectorate of Probation website.

“Finally, it is important to note that we did see some areas of positive work at these London PDUs – driven by probation officers and their managers – including a clear understanding of the diverse needs of people on probation in their boroughs. In addition, the delivery of unpaid work is improving and developing, despite the lack of staffing, as is important work in supporting the victims of crime.

“I remain hopeful for the future, given the determination within each service to drive change. However, these inspections serve as clear warning to the Probation Service – London region, and the Probation Service at a national level, that it will take a significant effort on their part to make this happen.”

Read the reports here:

An inspection of probation services in Newham PDU

An inspection of probation services in Lewisham & Bromley PDU

An inspection of probation services in Barking, Dagenham and Havering PDU



Notes to editor

  1. *Probation Delivery Units (PDUs) replaced Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and the National Probation Service (NPS), which merged into a unified Probation Service in June 2021.
  2. These probation services sit within the Probation Service – London region.
  3. These reports are available at on 24 November 2022 00.01.
  4. HM Inspectorate of Probation is the independent inspector of youth offending and probation services across England and Wales.
  5. The Inspectorate uses a four-point scale: ‘Outstanding’, ‘Good’, ‘Requires improvement’ and ‘Inadequate’. The Inspectorate rates specific aspects of each service and also gives an overall rating.
  6. Fieldwork for these inspections took place in August and September 2022.
  7. For media enquiries, please contact (E-mail address)