Norfolk Probation Service ‘Inadequate’

Norfolk Probation Delivery Unit (PDU) has received an overall rating of ‘Inadequate’ following an inspection by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation.

Martin Jones, Chief Inspector of Probation, said: “Norfolk PDU have set high expectations for staff to comply with timeliness and data recording targets. Worryingly, we found that the degree to which these targets were being prioritised by leaders diverted attention away to what was actually being delivered to people on probation. We found poor quality assessments of risk were being countersigned by Senior Probation Officers (SPOs) because of a need to meet performance targets. Performance targets should not come at the expense of quality service delivery.”

Inspectors were concerned with the breakdown in the senior strategic relationships with Norfolk PDU and partners involved in the safeguarding of children. The PDU had not been carrying out its statutory duties to attend or contribute towards the Local Safeguarding Partnership and relationships between probation practitioners and social workers were sometimes fractured. This means some children are at risk of harm which needs to be resolved as a matter of urgency.

The report highlights some positive work in the delivery of Mental Health Treatment Requirements (MHTRs). Evidence collected by the provider shows that the people who had completed these sessions always felt their emotional wellbeing had improved.

Elsewhere in the report, it is noted that the services for women on probation at Norfolk PDU were concerning. Women were not always assigned to female practitioners and the absence of a commissioned rehabilitative services (CRS) contract for substance misuse meant many people were not getting sufficient support.

Mr Jones added: “With an adjusted focus on service delivery rather than performance targets, there is a clear path for improving the outcomes of people on probation in Norfolk 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. Norfolk PDU is one of eight PDUs in the East of England (EofE) probation region.
  3. The report is available at 16 May 2024.
  4. HM Inspectorate of Probation is the independent inspector of youth justice 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 February 2024.
  7. For media enquiries, please contact Louise Cordell, Head of Communications 07523 805224 / (E-mail address)