"National Standards were limiting your ability to use your skills and judgement."
He said we must:-
"be ruthlessly and relentlessly focused on delivering effective offender management. Diverting you from that task by requiring you to become principally data inputters rather than principally offender managers is a shocking waste of your professional expertise and this has to change."
I take this last point to be a barely veiled snipe at OASys - or am I being naive here? He went on:-
"You are spending far too much time on paperwork, consuming the time that should be spent on face-to-face contact with offenders. If you are to have a real chance of changing lives and reducing re-offending, the amount of direct contact time needs to increase and there is a real opportunity to make this possible."
All fantastic stuff that would induce a standing ovation on their own. However delegates were less keen to hear him extolling the virtues of Payment by Results and the need to get the cost of CS down by privatising it. But then we all know there are huge cuts in spending just around the corner and as I write this, the Guardian is reporting that Ken Clarke has failed to get a good deal from the Chancellor and the Ministry of Justice looks likely to take a 30% hit as a result of being one of the last departments to settle. Surprising that, for such a seasoned operator.
I was puzzled by this section of Crispin's speech concerning sentencing and rehabilitation:-
"I wonder if we shouldn't be asking sentencers to judge the balance between punishment, restoration, public protection and rehabilitation. I am examining, when it gets to the detail of the rehabilitation, whether it would be better to leave the judgement about how best to devote those compulsory hours to you the professionals. You have the knowledge of an offender, whose needs may change when in your charge, and quite importantly the knowledge of what rehabilitative services are actually available and effective in your local area. These are bound to vary, not least as the voluntary and private sector will be the source of many of them."
Anyway, he wants our views on the idea and is asking the Probation Association and Probation Chief's Association for comments. I would have thought the Magistrates Association could have a view on this, however it might be that we all have to wait for the promised Green Paper due out in December for full details.