As the following document shows, the MoJ are making efforts to make sure things are 'smoothed over' as far as Judges and Magistrates are concerned regarding the bright new future being ushered-in under TR. I particularly like this bit:-
"The feedback we have received to date is that judges have not noticed any difference in probation service delivery since the transition on 1 June."
Transforming Rehabilitation: Programme Update
Ministry of Justice officials are currently conducting a series of interviews across the country with members of the judiciary to get your views on how the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms are progressing in regard to the courts, and what further information you would like to gain a greater understanding of the reforms.
Over the coming months we will be putting out regular information responding to emerging themes from these discussions to ensure that you have the information you need fully to understand the reforms that are taking place in the probation system.
What has been happening over the last few months?
On 1 June the 35 Probation Trusts were re-organised into 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and the new National Probation Service (NPS). Over the last few months, staff in the new organisations have been working hard to embed the new structures and processes. Under the new system, all low and medium risk of harm offenders will now be managed by the CRCs, and all high risk of harm offenders by the NPS.
Alongside the operational reorganisation, the Ministry of Justice has also been running a competition to find new owners for the 21 CRCs. We remain on track to sign contracts with new providers by the end of 2014.
Our reforms will see the probation market opened up to a wide range of providers to allow innovation from the private and voluntary sectors under a new payment by results structure. This system will encourage new ways of working with offenders based on what works to reduce reoffending. Services to the courts will continue to be provided by the public sector NPS.
Good progress has been made in the competition to own and run the 21 CRCs. On 30 June we reached the deadline for bid submissions. We have a strong and diverse market of bidders, with more than 80 bids currently being evaluated. There is healthy competition, with an average of 4 bidders in each of the Contract Package Areas.
We have a mix of bidders from a range of partnerships, including charities experienced in tackling a range of issues affecting offenders, small and large British businesses and experienced multinationals. Mutuals (formed by enterprising groups of staff who worked together in Probation Trusts) are also represented in this cadre, and all of the bidders have experience in working with offenders or across the wider criminal justice system. In addition, almost 1000 organisations have now registered as potential supply chain providers including more than 700 voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations.
We are on track to sign contracts with new owners later this year. We expect to commence the legislation when new owners take ownership of CRCs in early 2015.
Maintaining the quality of probation staff serving the Courts
The NPS and CRCs will both be required to have suitably qualified and competent staff. The NPS will continue to use the Probation Qualification Framework (PQF) and CRCs will be free to do the same should they choose to. If CRCs chose not to adopt the framework then they will still be contractually obliged to demonstrate equivalent qualifications for their staff.
On 3 December 2013 the MoJ announced the establishment of the Probation Institute in partnership with the Probation Chiefs Association (PCA), the Probation Association (PA), Napo and UNISON. This new independent organisation opened its doors in March this year and will provide professional leadership and promote skills for those working to drive down reoffending in the community.
Overview of the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014
The Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 extends post-release supervision to prisoners released from sentences of less than 12 months. It also makes various changes to the framework for community orders and suspended sentence orders, including the creation of a new rehabilitation activity requirement.
We will bring these provisions in to force at the point that the contracts for successful bidders for CRCs take effect and the new providers start delivering rehabilitation services. We plan to do this in line with our commitment to introduce these major reforms by 2015.
The Judicial College will be providing training later this autumn on the provisions of the Act and on the wider context of the reforms.
Through the Gate
The reforms will also put in place nationwide rehabilitation services which work “through the gate”, providing continuity of services for offenders in custody and the community. Under these reforms, in most cases the same provider will support induction of an offender into custody, provide them with resettlement services before release, meet them at the prison gates and continue work in the community.
The principals of Through the Gate (TTG):
- Coordination and management of offenders’ resettlement needs by the same provider
- A universal screening of need for all prisoners within the first three days on arrival in prison - completed by prison staff using the Basic Custody Screening Tool (BCST)
- Individual resettlement plan for all prisoners, Part 2 of the BCST, completed by Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC)
- Delivery of the plan by the CRC through the sentence
- Finalised plans for resettlement are made with the prisoner in their last twelve weeks in custody
- Support (including for those serving under 12 months) continues into the community
- The same provider responsible for the offender’s progress both sides of the gate
Managing Risk: Community Rehabilitation Companies
- CRCs will be contractually obliged to deliver the following services; accommodation advice, employment retention and brokerage, financial advice and signposting services for sex workers and victims of domestic and sexual violence
For low and medium risk offenders, resettlement and supervision post custody will be the responsibility of the CRC; meeting the offender at the gate on release and supporting them in successful resettlement during the licence and supervision period. During the custodial period prison offender supervisors will be responsible for managing risk.
National Probation Service
Management of high risk offenders will continue to be the responsibility of the National Probation Service (NPS). During the custodial period prison offender supervisors will be responsible for managing risk.
Contract management function – How will we make sure that this will work? How will we enforce the contracts if services are not provided by CRCs?
CRC contracts will set out detailed requirements in relation to offender management, including management of the risks posed by anoffender, which CRCs must adhere to.
Contracts have been designed to ensure that the MoJ contract managers can take robust action to deal with any risks to public safety, including the ability to step in, require action from CRCs and ultimately terminate contracts.
Our contracts are designed so that, to be paid in full, CRCs have to focus on ensuring both that offenders complete the requirements of their orders and that they are successfully rehabilitated. CRCs will be contractually required to ensure that the full sentence of the court is delivered. We will measure CRC performance in this respect and can deduct from their overall payment if performance falls below our expectations.
Separately, a proportion of the overall payment to CRCs is at risk under Payment by Results, and they will not receive full payment unless they improve reoffending rates for offenders in their cohort.
Furthermore there will continue to be an independent Inspectorate of Probation with the same statutory remit as now. The Inspectorate will be expected to inspect the system as a whole, covering both the public sector probation service and the contracted providers.
Has probation service delivery been maintained through the transition period?
Throughout the transition period we have worked closely with HMCTS and are now conducting nationwide interviews with members of the Judiciary. The feedback we have received to date is that judges have not noticed any difference in probation service delivery since the transition on 1 June.
Public protection remains our top priority and, as the programme progresses, the MoJ and NOMS will continue to deliver services effectively and provide value for money for the taxpayer. We will also continue to work closely with HMCTS to ensure that levels of service to the Court are maintained.
We will work with the Senior Presiding Judge to increase awareness of the protocol amongst NPS and CRC staff and local judiciary. The protocol can be found here:
In stark contrast to the picture painted for sentencers, the latest issue of NPS Getting Started is a special edition that tries to address the continuing chaos 'What we're doing to stabilise the new NPS'
It is now four months since the formal creation of the National Probation Service and the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies and over that period we have all been working to build and develop both the NPS and CRCs and to prepare for the share sale of the CRCs.
For the NPS much of this work carries on what we were doing to prepare for the June 1 change-over such as transferring policies from 35 Trusts into NOMS. We need in time to bring together our policies and we are working with the unions on a whole range of issues still needing to be resolved.
We are also looking at the shape of our workforce, where vacancies exist, where new roles have been created and how we should best recruit, train and vet our staff. You will all be only too aware that in the run up to June, in some places vacancies were not filled and that some aspects of the new model are new. None of this was ever going to happen overnight but good progress is being made.
Much of the work we are doing revolves around the relationship between the NPS and the CRC, which I know is something that many people have questions about. Our aim remains as it has always been: to ensure the best operational relationship between NPS staff and the CRC providers. This involves a whole range of teams from ICT, to our colleagues in the Prison Service as for example we prepare to implement Through the Gate provision and those dealing with the practical issues such as shared work spaces.
The implementation process for Transforming Rehabilitation was always going to be complex and there are issues that we will all still need to work through after share-sale. This special edition bulletin aims to give an overview on the work being done and key contacts if you need to know more.
All probation staff deserve credit for the professional way that you have maintained your focus on core operational delivery processes. Overall core offender-focused probation performance has stood up well during these early months in no small part due to your professionalism and effort.
I’d like to thank you all for your work over the last four months in particular and I encourage you to continue giving your feedback.
Colin Allars, Director of Probation
Sarah Payne, Director NOMS in Wales