‘Promising’ probation service for Somerset ‘Requires improvement’

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

Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said: “This inspection paints a mixed picture for Somerset probation service. On the one hand they are positive, determined and performing to expected standards in some areas of their work. On the other, key areas of the service – such as managing the risk of harm people on probation may pose – fell short of the mark.

“I know the service will be disappointed with the rating of ‘Requires improvement’ but this reflects their current situation, albeit safe in the knowledge that they have a promising future, and we look forward to watching them develop.”

The inspection found that, Somerset PDU’s ability to provide effective and consistent services to meet the needs of people on probation, and prevent further offending, was a strength. They worked successfully and cohesively with partner agencies, such as the local authority, to deliver programmes and support victims.

Morale is high at the probation service, and staff are highly motivated and determined to support people on probation and victims of crime. However, some felt overwhelmed by having too many cases to supervise and we found workloads to be unacceptably high for probation officers. Planned recruitment over the next year should ease this situation.

Mr Russell continued: “The Inspectorate gives a high level of scrutiny to areas of work that involve managing the potential risks to others of people on probation and this is where some of the service’s work did not meet the expected standard.

“Their assessments of the potential risk of harm a person on probation may pose was sufficient in only 31 per cent of cases we looked at during this inspection. This needs to improve, and our recommendations call on them to ensure all available information relating to safeguarding and potential domestic abuse risks is accessed and utilised, and information is shared in order to keep children and victims safe.”

This inspection made 11 recommendations: five for Somerset 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 Central region.
3. This report is available at www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation on 03 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 May 2023
7. For media enquiries, please contact media@hmiprobation.gov.uk