Probation service for East Berkshire rated ‘Inadequate’

The probation service, or Probation Delivery Unit (PDU*), in East Berkshire has been rated as ‘Inadequate’ following an inspection by HM Inspectorate of Probation.

This is the second published PDU inspection we have completed in the Probation Service – South Central region. The other is Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight PDU, which received a rating of ‘Requires improvement’.

Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said: “It was clear to us that East Berkshire probation service has every intention of tackling the many challenges they face to improve the work they do with people on probation, and they have attempted to manage this as best they can. Unfortunately, at this time, there are too many issues for them to deal with on their own without the help of regional and national colleagues. We hope this inspection puts a spotlight on the support they need.”

Like many probation services across England and Wales that we have inspected over the past 18 months, the East Berkshire service is struggling to recruit and retain staff, with additional difficulties due to their geography (notably, the high cost of living and the attraction of better paid roles in London). Probation practitioners had too many cases to supervise, and they felt overwhelmed – some had left the service for improved pay and manageable workloads.

One of our main concerns from this inspection was a lack of sufficient contact with people on probation. Managers had prioritised those who pose a high risk of harm to others. However, this strategy was not always being implemented properly, which meant the frequency of contact wasn’t enough to manage risk. The service also needed to improve their information-sharing with police and children’s services to safeguard children and victims of domestic abuse.

Mr Russell continued: “On a more positive note, this inspection did find areas of positive practice and innovation at East Berkshire PDU. We were pleased to see efforts being made to promote a culture of learning and development, which encouraged probation practitioners to share ideas for how to improve the quality of the service. There is also a forum designed specifically for people on probation to share their thoughts on the PDU’s work. This is both encouraging and admirable, given the many challenges the service is facing.”

This inspection made 11 recommendations: six for East Berkshire PDU and the rest for the South Central regional service and HMPPS.


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. This probation service sits within the Probation Service – South Central.
  3. This report is available at on 27 July 2023 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 this inspection took place in May 2023
  7. For media enquiries, please contact (E-mail address)