It looks like those clever guys down at Noms HQ have been busy cooking-up a cunning plan for probation officers in prison and I'm grateful to the person who supplied the following:-
From: Ian Mulholland and Gordon Davison
Date: 19 May 2014
To: Governing Governors
Chief Executives of Probation Trusts
cc: Phil Copple
Senior Leaders Bulletin
Re: NEW ROLE FOR PROBATION STAFF IN PUBLIC SECTOR PRISONS
Further to the recent communication from Phil Copple and Colin Allars, this letter introduces the new role description for probation staff working in public sector prisons.
The attached role description sets out the new role for custody probation staff in public prisons. This role is being revised due to the PSP Benchmark. This sees the offender supervision task within custody delivered exclusively by prison officers, with the exception of open prisons and the women’s estate, where National Probation Service (NPS) cases will see offender supervision delivered by custody probation officers.
The new role, which has been developed in close consultation with OMPPG, TR colleagues and Probation professionals in the operational setting, requires the skills and experience that qualified Probation Officers possess. Accordingly, there will not be a role for Probation Service Officers (PSOs) within Offender Management Units.
The role description sets out the role probation staff will have specifically within offender management functions in prisons and does not address other areas of work within prisons for probation staff such as in programme delivery. The role will be introduced in prisons from 1 June onwards and, as previously explained, the change will take place over an extended period to allow for individual circumstances to be considered appropriately and to balance resource needs across both establishments and the National Probation Service.
We are now developing an implementation plan which will timetable the move to the new model in each establishment. We should emphasise again that the introduction of this model will not result in any compulsory redundancies among those probation staff who move out of establishments during implementation. The implementation plan and the options available for probation staff moving out of establishments will be shared with the appropriate Trade Unions prior to finalisation.
For further information please contact:
Ian Mulholland Gordon Davison
Deputy Director Head of Offender Management and
Public Sector Prisons Public Protection Group
This paper sets out the new role for custody probation staff in all public prisons. Custody probation staff will use their professional expertise to support Offender Supervisors drive up the standards of Offender Management in custody, using a combination of quality assurance, oversight and guidance. The new role complements revisions made to the role of Offender Supervisors under the PSP Benchmark. This sees the offender supervision task within custody delivered exclusively by prison officers, with the exception of open and women’s prisons, where National Probation Service (NPS) cases will have offender supervision delivered by custody probation officers.
The purpose of the role will be to provide the Governor and staff involved in offender management with professional expertise in risk and case management.
The role will comprise 3 elements:
1.Quality assuring offender supervision work undertaken by Prison Officer Offender Supervisors.
2. Directly supporting Prison Officer Offender Supervisors by providing regular advice and guidance.
3. Providing oversight of and direction for all NPS cases which are subject to offender supervision by Prison Officer Band 4 staff (except for in open and women’s prisons).
Critical to the success of this arrangement will be the mutual recognition by probation and prison staff of the complementary nature of their respective roles, which need to be dovetailed and not carried out in ‘silos’ separate from one another.
The professional expertise of Probation Officers will support and enhance the important contribution that Prison Officer Offender Supervisors will make. In the same way that prison officers involved in the delivery of offending behaviour programmes require the expertise of programme and treatment managers, so prison officers involved in offender supervision require the expertise of Probation Officers to provide professional advice, feedback and guidance.
The length of time Probation Officers work in prisons will be limited. This arrangement will avoid the risk of ‘deskilling’ Probation Officers and ensure offender management in prison is constantly enriched by refreshed expertise from the community.
NOMS Offender Management and Public Protection Group (OMPPG) will provide practice guidelines for Probation Officers working in public sector prisons, Prison Officer Offender Supervisors, OMU Hub Managers and Heads of OMU, as part of the OM model development.
A resource allocation tool has been developed to determine the complement of Probation Officers in each prison. It is based on the number of Prison Officer Offender Supervisors and is weighted for the prisoner turnover, and risk profile of the prisoners in each prison.
1. Quality Assurance
The quality assurance dimension provides assurance to the Governor and partners involved in managing offenders about the totality of risk assessment, risk management, case management and public protection work. It builds on work already carried out in prisons, such as OASys QA, but extends this to incorporate an holistic approach to quality, encompassing not just assessment, but the management of the case throughout the sentence. It will provide a link to quality assurance work carried out by NPS in the community and builds on other initiatives within NOMS such as the Offender Engagement Programme. The clear focus of this work is to identify and address development needs of Offender Supervisors using the professional expertise of Probation Officers, not to identify poor performance.
Specific areas of work include;
OASys QA - as per current arrangements. Provide feedback to individual Prison Officer Offender Supervisors and aggregated feedback to the Governor.
Case QA - quality assurance of a random sample of case files completed by Prison Officer Offender Supervisors. Provide feedback and advice on aggregated learning needs within the OMU to the Governor.
Other QA - undertake any other quality assurance activity required, specific to any emerging issues highlighted in the case reviews and from QA of case files.
Learning Activities - advise the Governor about the learning needs and suggest activities to address these needs. It is expected that the majority of the activities will be delivered by the probation staff in the prison itself, but there may be some joint work with forensic psychologists, partnership agencies and providers within other prisons which have a similar role (i.e. resettlement prisons) and /or prisons in the same region. Activities should include developing one to one motivational techniques and offender engagement methods.
2. Support and Advice
The support and advice dimension provides continuous on-the-job learning and development for Prison Officer Offender Supervisors. It delivers support and advice about low and medium risk cases in preparation for specific tasks, but also provides regular in-depth reviews of individual cases and attendance at key meetings. The ongoing support and advice will help to strengthen Offender Supervisors’ confidence in decision-making, and ability to deliver the role effectively.
In some prisons this will not be a new role for probation staff, whereas in others it will bring a renewed focus on probation practice, which will become the core of the reformed public sector custody probation role. The intention is for all of the activity to provide learning opportunities for prison staff. This part of the role also provides for a limited amount of 1 to 1 work directly with offenders in areas such as motivation.
Case reviews with Prison Officer Offender Supervisors
The Prison Officer Offender Supervisor will bring a sample of their more complex, higher risk, or otherwise challenging Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) allocated cases, to be reviewed with the probation officer twice yearly. The probation officer will review the case with the prison officer in a supportive learning environment, ensuring that development issues are noted and that aggregated feedback (not individual) is provided to the Governor.
Case commencement support
Provide advice and support for Prison Officer Offender Supervisors about the management of their new cases. The provision of this advice will occur when the Prison Officer Offender Supervisor picks up a new case and could include advice about how to engage a particular offender, advice on intervention needs, or sequencing of support in escalating public protection issues such as domestic abuse or child protection. This can also include discussions about potential referrals to forensic psychology services or other agencies. Again, the focus here is on using every event as a development opportunity.
The level and type of support required will vary depending on the developed skills and experience of the Offender Supervisor, so there might be local variation in the focus of this task and time accordingly.
Attend key meetings where the professional advice of Probation Officers is required. Probation officers will attend these meetings in a professional advisory capacity. These meetings are:
Inter departmental risk management meetings
Pathfinder meetings (Extremism)
Any additional local Public Protection meetings and MALRAPs
Advice regarding high risk case reports
Provide advice to Prison Officer Offender Supervisors on the completion of key reports including (but not restricted to) SPRL reports for parole hearings, MAPPA contributions and other key reporting areas.
Provide one to one interventions
For medium and high risk offenders where a need has been identified that cannot be addressed elsewhere, probation may undertake motivational one to one work or refer offenders to forensic psychology services or other agencies.
3. Provide oversight of and direction for high risk cases managed by Offender Supervisors.
Probation Officers will oversee and provide direction to all NPS cases managed by Prison Officer Offender Supervisors, tailored to the relative experience and competency of the individual Offender Supervisor. This oversight and directing function will support the Prison Officer Offender Supervisor role but will not entail Probation Officers having responsibility for a caseload. The probation role will involve a more active involvement than the ‘support and guidance’ function for CRC cases, and it will enable them to stay in touch with practice in the community, whilst providing a level of assurance that the NPS cases are being progressed appropriately. This additional element of work for these cases might include some specific engagement with the offender for motivational reasons, or to help the Offender Supervisor accurately assess the offender and plan next steps. Review periods, and any issues that require urgent attention would be considered jointly.
In open and women’s prisons, the Probation Officer role will be to act as the Offender Supervisor for NPS cases. The Probation Officer staffing group would still also be required to provide support and quality assurance for other cases, which are the responsibility of Prison Officer Band 4 Offender Supervisors, as described above.