Suffolk Probation Service ‘Requires improvement’

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

Martin Jones, Chief Inspector of Probation, said: “Despite the high number of staff who have been in post for less than two years, practitioners at Suffolk PDU fully understand and support the vision and strategy of the leadership team. Staff describe their leadership team as approachable, visible, and supportive. However, while we did see a core group of staff able to appropriately manage risk, there were others who either did not have the capacity, due to workload or appropriate knowledge, or the experience required to formulate an effective risk management strategy.”

The report again highlights the workload pressures on Senior Probation Officers (SPOs). As was highlighted nationally in a thematic report published January 2024, the workload of SPOs at Suffolk PDU is too great and managers spoke of difficulties in supporting a new cohort of staff whilst undertaking tasks related to human resources. These demands made it difficult for SPOs to provide adequate management oversight of cases.

Leadership had a proactive relationship with partnership agencies such as Suffolk Constabulary, the youth justice service, and the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). Information relating to people on probation through these agencies was available to staff but was not routinely used to shape subsequent practice. The report highlights the need for practitioners at Suffolk PDU to further understand the needs of people on probation so those with lived experience can influence the delivery of services.

Inspectors found that whilst there were positive examples of practitioners understanding and analysing the motivation of the people on probation in complying with their sentence, this positive assessment did not result in adequate planning to support desistance. Mental health concerns and trauma were observed in the assessment stage, but in too few cases were plans formulated to address potential barriers to desistance.

Mr Jones added: “While the right foundations and culture are in place at Suffolk PDU, a clear strategy to implement these necessary changes will be central to supporting future improvements.”


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. The role of the senior probation officer and management oversight in the Probation Service was published on 18 January 2024
  3. Suffolk PDU is one of eight PDUs in the East of England (EofE) probation region.
  4. The report is available at 16 May 2024.
  5. HM Inspectorate of Probation is the independent inspector of youth justice and probation services across England and Wales.
  6. 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.
  7. Fieldwork for this inspection took place in February 2024.
  8. For media enquiries, please contact Louise Cordell, Head of Communications 07523 805224 / address) (E-mail address)