Probation service for Bristol and South Gloucestershire rated ‘Requires improvement’

The probation service, or Probation Delivery Unit (PDU*), for Bristol and South Gloucestershire has been rated as ‘Requires improvement’ following an inspection by HM Inspectorate of Probation.

This is the third published PDU inspection we have completed in the Probation Service – South West region. The others are Somerset PDU which received a rating of ‘Requires improvement’ and Dorset PDU which received a rating of ‘Inadequate’.

Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said: “Our inspection came at a time of significant change for Bristol and South Gloucestershire probation service, which included a relatively new leadership team. It’s clear that managers, and staff at the service have the enthusiasm and determination to succeed. The next step is turning this ambition into high-quality services for people on probation to deter them away from reoffending and protect local communities in this area of the south-west.”

The overall insufficient quality of casework we inspected was a major contributor to the rating of ‘Requires improvement’. In some key areas, such as the assessment and management of potential risks to others posed by people on probation, cases were not being managed to the expected standard. For example, the way the service obtained essential information from police and children’s services wasn’t always clear and the use of this information wasn’t consistent.

Mr Russell explains why this is such an important issue: “Keeping people safe – that is, family members of those on probation as well as actual or potential victims in the wider community – is a key area of focus for us on an inspection, so it’s vital that a service gets this right. This is an area of improvement for this PDU, but one I believe they can achieve given time.”

At the time of our inspection, the PDU was under-resourced, and we acknowledge that this was contributing to heavy workloads and was reducing their ability to offer the high-quality of support to people on probation that the service wants to provide. Significant efforts have been made to address staffing pressures and numbers were starting to increase.

This inspection made nine recommendations: six for Bristol and South Gloucestershire PDU and the rest for the South West 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 West region.
  3. This report is available at on 17 August 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 June 2023
  7. For media enquiries, please contact (E-mail address)