Role of the New Public Sector Probation Service
The core functions of the new public sector probation service are to:
· Case manage and supervise those offenders who are:
- assessed at the outset as requiring management under MAPPA arrangements;
- not managed under MAPPA but nevertheless assessed at the outset as posing a high risk of serious harm to the public;
- assessed at the outset as requiring management under MAPPA or posing a high risk of serious harm, but in which cases risk subsequently is assessed as decreasing.
- (in exceptional circumstances) not managed under MAPPA and do not pose a high risk of serious harm to the public, but in whose cases there is an exceptional public interest in management being retained in the public sector (eg. SOCA, very high profile cases about which there is considerable public concern); or
- transferred back to the public sector due to risk escalation (see below).
- Carry out an initial case allocation assessment of all cases and provide advice to court on sentencing in all cases. It will also continue to advise the parole board on release decisions.
- Decide on action in relation to all potential breaches (based on breach information packs prepared by contracted providers as necessary), and will advise the courts or Secretary of State on sanctions or recall to custody.
- Respond to requests for advice, within clearly defined parameters, from contracted providers on potential escalation of risk, and will be the ultimate decision-maker on action to be taken as a result of risk escalation (including future case management responsibilities with respect to management of risk of harm to the public).
- Undertake the statutory victim liaison role for all cases to which it applies (offenders sentenced to over 12 months for a violent or sexual offence). The public probation service will also, at least initially, retain responsibility for those Approved Premises it currently manages.
Given this new, much more specialised function for the public sector, the service is being designed to be a genuinely new organisation, which will deliver the necessary tight focus on the exercise of public interest decisions and issues of public protection. It is also imperative that the new service is structured in a way which enables these functions to be effectively delivered in an efficient manner, delivering the savings required of it both to help meet MoJ’s SR commitments.
The following form the key design principles which the design of the new public sector probation service will aim to achieve. The rationale for each of these is set out in more detail below.
Principle 1: The new public sector probation service will be structured to allow for best alignment with existing local delivery and partnership structures
This means that:
· The basic building block of the public sector structure will be the Local Delivery Unit, based on Local Authority boundaries.
· The structure will align LDUs within Police force and PCC boundaries.
Principle 2: The new public sector probation service will be structured in a way that allows for best alignment with contracted provider delivery arrangements
This means that:
· The structure will need to flex to provide direct operational linkage with de facto provider boundaries.
Principle 3: The new public sector probation service will be structured in a way that enables the efficient delivery of services based on a zero base budget:
This means that:
· Rehabilitative interventions to high risk of harm offenders will be commissioned through the public sector.
· Spans of control will be reviewed and reconfigured to provide the best fit between operational effectiveness and efficiency.
Principle 4: There will be clear levels of accountability and responsibility throughout the organisation, with appropriate management resource focused at each level.
This means that:
· There will be four delivery levels: front line operations, LDU cluster management, the Division, and a national Directorate.
· Spans of control at each of these levels will be designed to provide the best fit between effectiveness and efficiency.
Detailed design: Operational structure
The first key design principle guiding the operational structure of the public sector probation service is the need to work closely with existing local partners, and align to these existing structures wherever possible.
At a strategic level, meeting the needs of communities is important in the proper targeting of activity and in order to support public confidence in the system. Local Authorities and the Police and Crime Commissioners have elected authority to represent communities and the public sector structure should reflect this by ensuring that all elected level bodies have named senior probation staff with which they do business. Additionally, the role of the probation services in making public interest decisions is linked closely to the responsibilities of the courts and the Parole Board, and the delivery of supervision of high risk of harm offenders is linked closely to the work of the Police. The public sector structure needs to reflect these interdependencies by aligning with court and police boundaries wherever possible.
In outline, this means the there will be approximately 150 local units within the structure (to allow appropriate alignment with local authority areas, and ‘map up’ to larger local partnership arrangements). At that level public sector staff will service all courts with advice on sentencing based on an assessment of risk of harm and risk of reoffending. The units will undertake case management and supervision of those offenders falling within the public sector caseload, resource the reassessment of cases referred to them by the contracted providers, and ensure that public sector local adult and child safeguarding responsibilities are discharged.
The second key principle guiding the operational design is the need to deliver an efficient service which has appropriate spans of management responsibility. The new and much reduced size of the public sector caseload will mean that, in many cases, the 150 local units are too small to warrant a dedicated senior manager. More senior staff will be deployed across LDUs in “clusters.” However, each Local Authority will have a named senior manager allocated as the contact point. At senior level, the structure will align with the 42 Police Force boundaries and each Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner will have a named senior manager as their point of contact. At this level the public sector will ensure that MAPPA responsibilities are discharged and MAPPA panels are properly managed.
It looks and sounds like a crock of shite to me - but am I just fed up with it all?!