Monday, 27 October 2014

MoJ Report 2013/2014

The performance of the Ministry of Justice 2013-14 Part Four page 39 

4.10 On 30 June 2014 organisations submitted their bids to provide probation services to the Department. Bidders ranged from multinational corporations, to the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, to mutuals set up by staff from probation trusts. No organisation is allowed to win more than 25% of the total value of the competition. The Department met with bidders during August 2014 to provide feedback on their initial bids and allow organisations to make any changes they consider necessary.

4.11 In addition to those bidding to win the 21 regional rehabilitation contracts the Secretary of State for Justice has stated that almost 1,000 organisations have registered their interest in working with the successful bidders to provide rehabilitation services.

4.12 In May 2013 the Department set out initial plans for services to be delivered by successful bidders under new contracts from autumn 2014. However, since then the Department has delayed the timetable for delivery of the new services. The Department now aims to sign sale and purchase agreements and CRC contracts by the end of 2014, with ownership transferring in 2015.

4.13 The Office for National Statistics has confirmed that they will classify the CRCs as ‘private sector entities’ once they have been sold so long as there are no material changes to the sale agreements. This means that the CRCs will not be consolidated into the Department’s or NOMS’ financial statements once they have been sold. We have been appointed as the auditors of the CRCs while they are under public sector ownership and we will resign our position once the CRCs have been sold.

Payment by results

4.14 One of the reforms the Department is introducing is to partially base payment to CRCs on performance: payment by results. The core of the payment mechanism will be split between:

a Fee for service, which covers delivering the sentence of the court and licence conditions (including the new ‘through the gate’ resettlement service); and  

b Payment by results, which will be paid for achieving statistically significant reductions in reoffending rates and frequencies against a baseline (2011).

4.15 The Department has been testing this approach by running payment by results pilots in HMP Doncaster and HMP Peterborough. The results for both pilots are based on a 12-month re-conviction measure that tracks offences committed in the 12 months following release from prison that result in conviction at court either in those 12 months or in a further 6-month period (allowing time for cases to progress through the courts). In August 2014 the Department announced that results from pilots were “promising”.

• The Peterborough scheme commenced in 2010 and is on track to achieve a 7.5% reduction in re-conviction rate across all offenders in cohorts 1 and 2. However, it did not achieve its target of a 10% reduction in reoffending for cohort 1. Cohort 2 is still in progress.

• The Doncaster pilot started in 2011. The cohort 1 re-conviction rate for offenders released was 5.7 percentage points lower than the 2009 baseline year. Consequently, the providers will retain the full core contract value. They are not on course for any additional payment, which would have been due if they had achieved a 6–10% reduction in re-conviction rate.

4.16 These pilots are not directly comparable to the contracts that organisations are currently bidding for as the Department has refined its approach:

a Funding for the Peterborough scheme was different as it was funded through social impact bonds – where the Big Lottery Fund and other charitable trusts provide funding and received money back if certain targets are achieved.

b The Department used different measurements for reoffending in both schemes.

Risks to the programme

4.17 The reforms are wide-ranging and fundamental to the system. Change of this type brings with it risks, which we outlined in our report in March 2014.33 Risks include:

a market and supplier failure and how this is managed;

b having appropriate skills to manage suppliers;

c offender management and allocation; and

d managing and retaining staff.

4.18 The Department has made efforts to address risks, for example undertaking significant work on improving its contract management approach and capability. The outsourcing of CRCs to providers is an early opportunity for the Department to put into practice its new contract management arrangements. The Department is putting a significant amount of resource into successfully implementing its new approach. However, work to improve contract management is ongoing.

Offender management

4.19 NPS allocates offenders between NPS and CRCs based on their Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) status and the risk of serious harm those individuals pose. This risk assessment needs to be robust so that offenders are allocated appropriately.

4.20 Having separate organisations raises an inherent risk around effective sharing of information when offenders move between organisations, either due to geographical reasons or because of a change in their risk profile. In evidence to the Justice Select Committee (JSC) ministers recognised the importance of engagement between the CRCs and NPS, especially where there is a change in the risk profile of an offender.

The Department has taken some steps to address this, for example by locating regional CRC and NPS staff together so that they can communicate easily, and by issuing operational advice and guidance to staff on data-sharing.

4.21 To date, the probation unions and some individual probation officers have reported increasing workloads for some staff, inappropriate allocation of cases to staff and cases left unallocated. While recognising that there may be some local issues, NOMS is confident that “the vast majority of offenders have been assigned correctly” and that caseload has been allocated proportionately.


4.22 It is not unusual for significant change at an organisation to have a negative impact on staff morale. The National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO) issued a briefing to MPs in July 2014 describing morale as at an “all-time low”.

4.23 NOMS acknowledges staff morale is very important and has tried to engage with employees in various ways. During the transition from probation trusts to CRCs or NPS a national operations centre was open to support staff. NOMS continues to provide weekly communications to staff across the probation service and holds weekly conference calls with NPS and CRC senior leaders. NOMS has held leadership events for NPS and CRC senior leaders and provided training for front-line staff.

4.24 The NOMS annual report 2013-14 shows a drop in permanent probation staff of 452 and an increase in agency and contract staff of 242. During August 2014 some CRCs placed adverts to recruit probation officers on both permanent and contract bases. High levels of staff turnover create significant challenges for management in maintaining services within available budgets.

The full report can be found here.


  1. I would say that Probation has performed well DESPITE the MoJ, rather than BECAUSE of it!!


    Sickness Report - received in a Tweet, sender seeks anonymity

    " Now been published officially our sickness rate hit a staggering 23 days pa - up from about 8 pre split. Managers to visit offices to stem! "

  3. I am so reassured by this MoJ report. I have, for so long, been anxious about the future of Probation and this missive has put my mind at rest. I really thought that they didn't know what they were doing but this has put my mind at rest. They really nailed all the issues with those Doncaster/Peterborough pilots, didn't they? I can see where the target operating model came from now. It all makes perfect sense.