Saturday, 4 January 2014

RIP OM Part 2

This is the Annex A referred to in part one. The Annex B table is virtually unintelligible and has been omitted.  


Offender Management Change Programme Board

Meeting Date:
2 September 2013
Agenda Item:
Paper Title:
Case Management Responsibilities in Prisons
Purpose of Item:
For decision
Circulation Restrictions:
Board members only



1. Confirming where offender management responsibility for offenders sentenced to 12 months or more rests during the core custodial period.


2. Since the introduction of the Rehabilitation Programme (RP), the Through the Gate (TTG) project has designed resettlement services to support offenders during the transitional period between custody and community. There is a particular emphasis on the last 3 months of the sentence, when TTG providers will provide services direct to offenders within resettlement prisons. TTG is also realigning prisons to ensure that 80% of offenders are released from a resettlement prison in their Contract Package Area.

3. Offender management responsibilities to cover the core custodial period (i.e. rehabilitation, rather than resettlement work) for offenders serving 12 months or more are out of scope for TTG. The decision for allocation of OM responsibility during this time falls to the Offender Management Change Programme (OMCP), but must take account of the changes under RP and the Prison Unit Cost Programme (PUCP).

4. The original Offender Management Model introduced two new roles: the Offender Manager (based in the community); and the Offender Supervisor (based in prisons). The Offender Manager was directly responsible for the management of all cases in scope of the Offender Management Model, meaning they were tasked with driving the sentence, including completion of all assessment and sentence planning activity. In these cases, the Offender Supervisor (OS) was tasked with the day to day delivery of the sentence plan, in liaison with the Offender Manager at key stages. The “in-scope” cases covered all offenders serving 12 months or more who were assessed through OASys as High or Very High Risk of Harm; all those sentenced to Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP); and all those identified as Prolific and Priority Offenders (PPOs).

5. The introduction of the Manage the Custodial Sentence (MTCS) Service Specification (transitional version) in October 2012 brought into scope of Offender Management all other offenders sentenced to 12 months or more. The newly added offenders were those assessed at Low or Medium Risk of Serious Harm (ROSH). During the custodial period these offenders were allocated to the direct management responsibility of the OS, rather than being managed by an Offender Manager (OM) in the community. The OS was, therefore, responsible for assessment and sentence planning for these cases.

6. As a result, under the transitional MTCS Service Specification, some cases are managed by the prison and others by the OM in the community, during the core custodial period.

7. Since the first implementation of offender management for custodial cases in November 2006, it has proved difficult to deliver the original vision of the OM model. In particular, OMs based in the community have not consistently been able to “drive” the sentence during custody. There have been a number of reasons for this, including time constraints and geography restricting OMs from visiting the relevant prisons. Whilst video conferencing and teleconferencing allow some communication, these do not allow OMs to build effective relationships and therefore authority with their offenders. In addition, OMs, with some exceptions, have found it difficult to lead and direct activity from outside the prison environment. Finally, OMs have often had to prioritise other cases - e.g. those already on licence, or subject to an imminent Parole Review. In practice, the majority of cases are “driven” by the OS instead, albeit with key input from the OM at review stages.

8. A number of reports, including joint OM inspections by HM Inspectorates of Prisons and Probation, have highlighted these difficulties, notwithstanding some examples of good practice.

(Annex A provides an outline of some of the concerns raised in inspections and other reports in relation to the existing Offender Management approach to cases whilst in custody.)

9. As a result of the persistent difficulties, before the TRP was introduced, it was the intention of the OMCP to transfer management responsibility for all cases to the OS whilst they were in custody, in line with the Specifications, Benchmarking and Costing (SBC) teams’ original plans.


10. Following the changes introduced by the TRP, it is a good time to consider whether this intention should still be pursued. We envisage two broad options:

i) Mirror the TRP split of cases with regards to OM in custody:  retained National Probation Service (NPS) cases could be managed by the community-based probation OM, whilst the contracted out cases could be managed by the prison-based OS during the custodial period.

The benefits of this model include retaining continuity for NPS-managed cases; and employing the expertise of community-based probation officers for MAPPA/high-risk cases. However, the risks of this model are that for retained cases, all the difficulties described above associated with managing a case from the community would persist.

ii)  Transfer responsibility for all custodial cases to prison-based staff. Under this arrangement, assessments and sentence plans would be completed by the custody-based OS in all cases. However, for NPS retained cases, a seconded probation officer in the prison would have responsibility for driving and overseeing the case, working with the OS.* It is envisaged that a community-based OM would still be designated for NPS-retained cases. However, demands on these officers would reduce: they would no longer bear formal responsibility to drive the case, but they would still be advised of progress and given the opportunity to contribute to the case at key stages, including sentence planning reviews. Further, at the 6 months pre-release stage, or at commencement of any parole process, responsibility for the case, including assessment, would transfer from custody to the community.**

The benefits of this approach would be that the prison-based staff would be given formal responsibility to drive the sentence for all cases (which has often become the default position in any case). Responsibility for the offender management of contracted out cases would therefore sit with Band 4 OS's; whilst the responsibility for NPS-retained cases would sit with seconded probation officers in the relevant prison, who then would be able to pro-actively drive the sentence plan delivery and build up a direct relationship with the offender, working with the OS.

However, there would also be some risks to this model: some continuity across the length of the sentence could be lost, including through prison transfers. In addition, OS's in prisons do not have the full range of OM skills, training or experience that probation officers do and they are sometimes expected to perform other functions within the prison. Further, the PUC benchmarking has, in some cases, reduced the overall resource in custody, whilst Fair and Sustainable has also impacted on the numbers of experienced prison-based OS's in post, putting strain on the system. The success of the model would therefore depend heavily on the quality and experience of the seconded probation officer for NPS-retained cases, as well as strong support to OS’s and their managers to build the skills and experience to maintain high standards of OM for all cases.

11. The Offender Assessment and Management Section (OAMS) considers that some of the risks of Option 2) can be mitigated. OAMS is working with the Business Development Group on the design and implementation of the new seconded probation role for prisons, referred to above. An initial design for the seconded probation role has been agreed at ISAB and is due for consultation shortly with prison Governors, Probation Trusts, and other key stakeholders.

12. OAMS will also focus on developing OSs’ abilities, through case reviews and advice, improved training and support networks such as the OMU Managers’ Forum.

On balance, it is recommended that the original intention to transfer OM responsibility to prisons should be pursued, in parallel with the development of the new probation role in custody, which will need to be adequately resourced. Resource risks and loss of experience around OM in custody following the PUC and Fair and Sustainable should continue to be monitored closely.

(A summary table of the two options with benefits and risks is at Annex B.)

Decision required:

13. This paper seeks the Boards views on the proposal to:
    • Transfer management responsibility for all cases to the prison during the custodial period; 
    • Retain a seconded probation oversight for the retained NPS cases, to drive the sentence, working with the OS, until the point of formal handover to the community Offender Manager six months pre-release; 
    • Confirm the principle that all NPS retained cases will still have a named community Offender Manager from the start of sentence, and be able to contribute to sentence planning meetings and other key events as necessary. 
14. Subject to the views of the OMCP Board, a paper seeking final approval will be drafted for the Implementation and Service Acceptance Board (ISAB).


* There would remain a question of whether the community Offender Manager should still complete an initial assessment and sentence plan for all Extended Determinate and Life sentence cases, as now.

** Should an offender get a negative decision following a parole hearing, the case would return to the prison for assessment and management purposes, until the next parole review process commenced.


  1. Sorry - lacking any enthusiasm for this bollocks...I just love how the language is being tainted by this piffle....see para 2 - 'home area, substituted by 'Contract Package Area'....and para 7...yes, I got that what point did ''build effective relationships' become 'therefore authority'? I have always valued the face to face stuff, as it allows the client to fully participate and engage in discussion and as far as they were willing, enter into a working relationship based on respect...not authority! I think Mr Cove must have lost his way the day this was written and he joined the wrong meeting to offer his naff opinion on the relationships between teacher - pupil in schools; another magnificent shambles! Anyway, just before I laugh loudly at the Soccer AM Dance Off - I thought I would offer some alternative meaning for some of those acronyms..

    OMCP - Only Mad Conservatives Permitted.
    PUCP - People, not, of the Usual Criminal Persuasion - see Government.
    MTCS - (service specification - transitional version) - My Team Can't be Sold!
    SBC (teams) the....Silly Barstewards Corporation.

    I am, after the Dance Off heading off for a reunion with my flatmates from 14E (Newcastle Uni) it has been a long time coming....but not as long as this train wreck!

    Oh and like some other colleagues, I won't be welcome back into the HMP either - too principled, and too expensive!

  2. Off topic but maybe sone probation staff may find themselves posted to a police station in the future?

    1. Mental health nurses are to be based in police stations and courts in 10 areas of England as part of a pilot scheme aimed at cutting reoffending.

      The nurses' duties will include helping officers to respond to calls and identify those with problems.

      Ministers said "too often" criminals with mental health problems were being diagnosed only once they reached jail.

      The £25m scheme - being trialled in areas including London and Merseyside - could be extended England-wide by 2017.

      The Department of Health says most people in prison have a mental health problem, a substance misuse problem or a learning disability, and one in four has a severe mental health illness such as depression or psychosis.

      It has been estimated that police officers spend 15% to 25% of their time dealing with suspects with mental health problems.

      Being diagnosed with a mental health, learning difficulty or substance abuse problem will mean people can be offered treatment or support, and could affect how they are dealt with by the criminal justice system, ministers say.

      The pilot mental health "liaison and diversion" teams will run in:

      Avon and Wiltshire
      Sunderland and Middlesbrough
      South Essex

      Similar arrangements have already been successfully tried in Leicestershire and Cleveland.

    2. What's needed is not pre-prison diagnosis, but more diversion of the mentally ill and those with learning disabilities out of the criminal justice system. There were diversion schemes in place decades ago, but they were short-term funded. Many courts have been making use of in-court mental health assessments for sometime, as consequence of local initiatives such as NHS outreach work. In the old days, of course, the courts would adjourn and get a full medical assessment. But cuts put an end to those in all but the most exceptional cases. As we have seen with probation, pre-court assessments have been cut to the bone and everything has to be done in timelines set by benchmarkers who have never been inside court cells and seen the complex needs that some defendants present. We know it makes sense to have such schemes, the evidence is overwhelming, but, unlike TR, this government wants to run a pilot. It's all so damn cynical. Such schemes need long-term funding and if there is to be diversion, there needs to be funding for in-patient and community treatments – instead of wasting money on incarceration. Isn't this known as justice reinvestment? What we will see is a probable increase in community orders with treatment conditions – all at nil cost, of course.

    3. Netnipper - spot on as usual! Nothing much new here and as you say, a pilot first!

  3. Police stations may be safer!

    1. PRISONERS at HMP Nottingham assaulted a staff member and stole their keys during a disturbance, a prison source has claimed.

      The incident has been described as "serious" by the Prison Officers' Association, which believes that overcrowding is making prisons dangerous for staff and inmates alike.

      Trouble broke out at the jail on Thursday evening. A source said that a special team had been deployed to restore order.

      Another source told the Post that three men had assaulted a prison officer and had taken a set of cell keys.

      The Post understands the inmates were tackled by other prison staff. It is claimed that the prison was put on lockdown, with all prisoners locked in their cells while the disturbance was dealt with.

      However, a source told the Post that after the cells were reopened, there was further trouble when two prisoners jumped on to a large safety net designed to break someone's fall if they fell from the balconied stairways.

      A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said that normal prison routine had returned by 10.30pm.

      Peter James McParlin, chairman of the Prison Officers' Association, said incidents such as these were increasing nationwide and may be exacerbated by overcrowding.

      He said: "These issues are happening all too often. It seems there has been a series of incidents in Nottingham.

      "It is indicative of the dangerous nature of our prisons and this is caused by overcrowding.

      "The Ministry of Justice would call this efficiencies with reductions in staff.

      "We would call them cuts."

      A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: "Three unconnected incidents that took place at HMP Nottingham on January 2 were successfully resolved by trained staff. A small number of staff and prisoners received treatment at the prison for minor injuries.

      "The police were contacted and there will be a local investigation into all three incidents. Any prisoners who break the rules will be dealt with severely and stripped of their privileges."

      The spokesman rejected the claim that overcrowding was causing disturbances within the prison system.

      He added: "All our prisons run a safe and secure regime and are staffed appropriately.

      "We are currently introducing reforms to the prison system that will provide better value for taxpayers while protecting the public."

  4. Is this a glimpse of what the future holds for probation services?
    Sentinel I believe are on the short list of TR bidders.

    1. AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Kathleen Hucks was walking her dogs down the dirt road that leads out of Mim’s Rentals, a small trailer park in rural Augusta, Ga., when a police officer in a cruiser stopped her on Labor Day weekend.

      The officer asked the slight 57-year-old for identification and ran her name through the system. Nothing came up for Richmond County, where she lives. Then the officer ran one more search.
      “He says, ‘Ma'am I have to place you under arrest -- Columbia County’s got a hold on you for violation of probation,’” Hucks remembered.

      When her husband, 64-year-old James Hucks, saw his wife getting arrested even though she was no longer on probation, he thought there had been an error. “I said, ‘Look here, don’t y’all realize this case is dead?’”

      It was no mistake. A warrant for Hucks’ arrest had been issued in 2010, long after she completed a 24-month probation term arising from a 2006 conviction for drunken driving, possession of marijuana and driving with a suspended license. The reason: She hadn’t paid all the fees she owed to the for-profit company that supervised her probation.

      Even though the company’s ability to collect the debt had expired when her probation did, she was arrested. Hucks spent 20 days in jail before a judge freed her.

      Even though the company’s ability to collect the debt had expired when her probation did, she was arrested. Hucks spent 20 days in jail before a judge freed her.

      Last week, Hucks filed suit against Sentinel Offender Services alleging that the Irvine, Calif.,-based company violated her civil rights. The outcome has implications beyond the case of one woman in Augusta because it claims that the Georgia law that allows for a for-profit company to act in a judicial capacity violates the due process clause of the state Constitution.
      Hucks’ case is the latest of several lawsuits filed in Georgia and elsewhere challenging private probation companies, which operate in about 20 states.

      Supporters of the industry say the system saves counties money by providing a service: collecting court fines without burdening taxpayers. But critics allege the private probation companies routinely violate the civil rights of the probationers under their watch and have, in essence, created a modern-day debtor’s prison.

  5. Quote: Mental health nurses are to be based in police stations and courts in 10 areas of England as part of a pilot scheme aimed at cutting reoffending.

    We have been doing this in Sussex for some considerable time (as part of a pilot pilot I suppose!). I can say it is extremely helpful to the court; we thought at one point we would be losing it as funding ended by 'someone' found some to keep it going.
    Suppose I should keep quiet about it usefulness as it will be cut now!

  6. So had Teesside as part of probation services, was a great resource in helping offenders during supervision and PSR stage. Then two years ago ( no explanation to staff) CPNs were moved into police stations. Worked brilliantly when part of probation.

  7. The Quote above was all over the airways yesterday and it really got on my****; surely this is the kind of statement which just suggests to the general public that people with mental health problems are all criminals and then negatively influences the way they treat such people. These services should be deployed to assist in the safe management of people with mental health problems, epilepsy, deafness etc for them to be treated with dignity and diverted from the Criminal Justice System, as it is generally the ignorance of those reporting and arresting which are at fault. A proactive, intelligent and sympathetic approach to assessing everyone, would I hazard a guess, reduce prison numbers, but do little, if anything for reoffending rates. As always, me choosing to live in utopia, as common sense in the real world doesn't stand a chance!