Justice Minister Andrew Selous has praised hardworking probation staff for their dedication to maintaining public protection as the government introduces a radical new approach to rehabilitation, aimed at tackling stubbornly high reoffending rates.
This comes as performance data is released today showing that significant progress has been achieved following an initial transition period towards the new ways of working.
The government is introducing a much wider range of organisations from the private, public and voluntary sectors to bring new ideas to turning round the lives of offenders. They will offer an unprecedented level of support to offenders on short sentences who currently get no statutory post-prison support and return to crime at an alarming rate. Nearly 60% reoffend within a year of release.
Twenty-one new regional Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) have been created to focus on turning round the lives of medium and low risk offenders, while a new National Probation Service (NPS) is tasked with protecting the public from high-risk offenders.
The new structures went live on 1 June this year and the CRCs are remaining in the public sector until new providers take over in early 2015. This bedding-in period was built in to ensure a smooth handover to the new arrangements.
Andrew Selous, the minister responsible for probation and rehabilitation said:
"Our crucial reforms to probation are being rolled-out in a sensible way, with testing at every stage.
The wide range of information we have published demonstrates how closely we are monitoring the system to ensure that performance levels are maintained.
This has been a challenging time for staff, but they should be extremely proud of the way they have kept up standards. I want to put on record my thanks to them."
The ‘preferred bidders’ who are set to lead the new fight against reoffending were announced last month, and the voluntary sector are set to be at the forefront of the new approach.
Almost all of the 21 CRC areas will be led by new partnerships and joint ventures between private sector firms and some of Britain’s biggest and most successful rehabilitation charities.
Providers will only be paid in full if they are successful at reducing reoffending, helping drive innovation and getting best value for taxpayers.