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Transforming Rehabilitation: Early Implementation 2 – Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation

June 5, 2016

Probation serviceA friend used to be a probation officer but said that the job had changed out of all recognition. Indeed, the very aim of the role had changed from pastoral to punitive. After all, the probation service grew out of the Police court Mission.

We used to discuss the extent to which parts of our respective jobs took us away from what we felt to be our vocations. The balance tips too far one way and it’s time to find another career. She did.

The report, based on relates to findings from inspections undertaken between December 2014 and January 2015, states that, while the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies are working better together than before, serious concerns about the new arrangements remain.

It also uses a data set called nDelius which is currently being rolled out and will take over from the Probation Trust Case Management System.

Inspectors found that more than two-thirds of those released from prison had not received enough help with accommodation, employment or finances from the relevant Community Rehabilitation Company beforehand.

Morale among probation staff was found to be poor or patchy, mainly in the Community Rehabilitation Companies. Some staff said that they felt insufficiently trained to handle some of the cases they had been allocated.

The report ‘thought that levels of contact between the offender and Community Rehabilitation Company staff were sufficient to bring about the necessary changes in behaviour in two-thirds of cases. In the remainder we felt that there was the need for more intensive engagement.’ My friend begs to differ, saying that caseloads were too big.

Reports provided to the courts by National Probation Service staff varied in quality and there were some gaps in information.

Inspectors found that some aspects of work in the National Probation Service still needed to improve but that, in a number of important areas, work in the National Probation Service was better than in the Community Rehabilitation Companies. (So the government privatised it and then partly renationalised it.)


The National Offender Management Service should evaluate the value and purpose of completing the Risk of Serious Recidivism in all cases prior to allocation especially where cases are automatically allocated to the National Probation Service, for example Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangement cases.

The National Offender Management Service should review the requirement to fully complete the Case Allocation System process for those cases where the allocation to the National Probation Service is mandatory, such as Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangement eligible or offenders liable to deportation.

The National Offender Management Service should amend the Case Allocation System process to align the Risk of Serious Harm screening into a single process.

The National Offender Management Service should explore the possibility of allowing joint access to the nDelius record for a short period after transfer, so that incoming information can be handled efficiently.

The National Probation Service and the Community Rehabilitation Companies must ensure that relevant information held by either party is shared efficiently at the court hearing stage.

The National Probation Service must inform the Community Rehabilitation Company of all hearings involving cases under their jurisdiction, including the results of bail hearings. Any information provided by the Community Rehabilitation Company should be shared appropriately with the court.

Where appropriate the management of medium and high risk offenders should include purposeful home visits, repeated as necessary.

Community Rehabilitation Companies and the National Probation Service should agree a joint process to identify all partners involved in cases where risk review has caused a change in the organisation  responsible for the case, so that they can be informed.

Community Rehabilitation Company and National Probation Service recording of breach and escalation information on nDelius should be improved to facilitate the production of meaningful performance management information for the National Offender Management Service.

The National Probation Service should ensure that all cases have a risk of harm screening in place prior to allocating a case to the Community Rehabilitation Company. Where possible, if the screening indicates the need for a full assessment this should be undertaken prior to the allocation.

If it is not possible at the time of the allocation to gather all the necessary relevant information from partner agencies, National Probation Service staff should clearly indicate on the Case Allocation System what steps have been taken to gather that information, and what is required to complete the full analysis.

National Probation Service staff should ensure that all necessary documentation is uploaded on to nDelius at the point of allocation.

National Probation Service court duty staff should, where possible, ensure that a provisional first appointment is arranged before sentence, and confirmed once the sentence is passed. Community Rehabilitation Company staff should make available such provisional appointments, taking into account the relevant circumstances of the offender such as working patterns or child care arrangements.

The National Probation Service should ensure that for all cases presenting a medium or high risk of serious harm, there is a full initial assessment of the offender and the risks they pose.

The National Probation Service should ensure that for all cases presenting a medium or high risk of serious harm, a comprehensive risk management plan is completed at the start of their community sentence or licence.

Where a case is accepted as high risk of harm by the National Probation Service, there should be a face-to-face meeting between the new offender manager and the offender as soon as possible, so that the case is actively managed to minimise risk of harm to the public. Where the offender is held in custody there should be a clear communication explaining the risk escalation and setting out the next steps.

Community Rehabilitation Company managers must ensure that offenders engage with their allocated officer at the earliest opportunity. Where a group or duty induction is used, an appointment with the offender manager should always be provided as part of this process.

Community Rehabilitation Company staff should ensure that they assess the potential barriers to the offender complying with the sentence and ensure that they put in place a plan to minimise them.

On receipt of an allocated case, Community Rehabilitation Company staff should review the risk of harm screening or full analysis that has been completed as part of the pre-sentence report process and ensure that they have all the information necessary to confirm the risk of serious harm level posed by the offender. Where necessary they should review the risk management plan and ensure that it forms the basis for the necessary work to manage the risk of harm posed by the offender.

Community Rehabilitation Companies should ensure that the plan to manage the offender throughout the sentence should be kept under review to ensure that it remains focused and relevant.

Where the Community Rehabilitation Company offender manager starts the escalation process it should be seen through to a referral to the National Probation Service promptly, or be withdrawn by the Community Rehabilitation Company manager.

Howard leagueAndrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “The break-up of the public probation service, with a large part of it handed to 21 private companies, was supposed to turn people’s lives around, reduce reoffending and make us all safer.

“We were promised a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ and yet for individuals trapped in the system, the spin shows little relationship with reality. These companies are failing to give people the support they need on release from prison – help with finding somewhere to live, securing a job and getting their finances in order. It is hard to see how this will cut crime.”

He concluded: “Ministers took a huge risk by dismantling a service that was performing well. Fifteen months on, the signs are not promising.”


Given that we are still in the early stages of the implementation of Transforming Rehabilitation, it is not surprising that we found many of the challenges identified in our original report still remain. In what is clearly a fast moving and complex programme of reform, this inspection confirmed that it will take time for a number of the issues to be resolved. It is also true to say that some of the challenges identified by our inspections pre-dated the introduction to Transforming Rehabilitation, and some of the issues are in the process of being addressed. On the ground too, National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Company staff are working collaboratively to ensure a good standard of delivery of services.

“There is much still to do to streamline processes and reduce bureaucratic burdens that could stifle innovation. There remains too the need to continue to review and improve IT systems and processes, so that this supports the business of delivering effective, quality services to offenders that contribute to reducing reoffending and the protection of the public.”

“I met with my SO on the first appointment, she took time to tell me all about what I needed to do, and asked me what I wanted to achieve.”

“I saw duty officer twice. It would have been better to have got started quicker with the OM, but the duty officer was good and put my mind at rest.”

“I remember attending my first appointment when I met my OM and received a full induction which included what the expectation was of the order, rules, and compliance stuff. The OM also talked about what goals I had and wanted to achieve during the supervision period.”

I missed a couple of appointments but that was my own fault and went back to Court. Order was continued and happy with that.”

“She fits arrangements around my work and rearranges when I need to. I don’t want to get recalled so I make it work.”

Yes – on both my orders I always get a lot of time from him and he makes me fully aware that I can go in to talk to him about any problems. I’ve been feeling quite down, I’ve had money problems as well. He is always there so I can tell him anything. The first time I met him I took a big dislike to him but we’ve got past that and it’s going really well now.”

My Probation officer is stopping me moving in with my girlfriend, which means I am homeless and living rough in the woods. They are no use at all and just stop me doing things.”

“We talk about the problems I am facing and also about the offences I have committed. I can talk to him about anything. I have been doing a programme and he makes sure I go to that.”

“a) It was a one off b) I report and tick all the boxes. We have cosy chats.”

The report is online here

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