Following on from yesterday's post regarding new plans for PSR's in London, readers might be interested to see what London Napo's thoughts on it are:-
Thank you for the opportunity to provide our comments on the new PSR strategy for London in regard to the production of Pre Sentence Reports across London area.
We have consulted with some of our members both in Courts and in field teams. Overall, the initial response has been positive, particularly with the general principle of only completing a full PSR & OASys on high risk of harm, Scheduled (15) cases. We welcome that there is a recognition of increasing demands on field, in terms of caseloads, Parole Reports, Oral Hearings and the numerous additional tasks associated with case management.
We appreciate that the proposals are now live, and due to be rolled out in London imminently. We are also aware that this model appears to be the direction of travel for the NPS.
We are of the view that in order for the strategy to be effective the following should be fully considered:
• Resource implications:
Correct levels of staffing will be required in the new reconfigured Court teams in order to ensure efficient and effective service delivery. We understand that with the greater use of Short Format Reports, especially in the Magistrates' Court, should be supplemented with good quality training in report writing and risk assessments skills. We appreciate that there are already experienced members of Court staff who have the skills and knowledge to assist with such training.
• We welcome the distinction, and the provisions provided for cases of domestic violence. We however have some concerns that the expectation is for them to be completed in five working days. Thought should be given to key partnership agencies who are required to provide us with information in a timely fashion. Suffice to say that all key service level agreements will need to be revisited. We are aware that some key agencies are finding it difficult to sustain their service level agreement with the NPS. For example, safeguarding checks will need to be completed fairly quickly this has not always been the case in some courts. Given the amount of time allocated for the preparation of these new reports, we can only surmise that our members will continue to be under stress. We would hope the model allows flexibility in such cases.
• We understand that there is essentially no change to the way high risk of harm (dangerousness assessments) are allocated and understand that these reports will be prepared by qualified Probation Officers.
• We also are of the view that there should be clear guidance on cases which fall outside of the high risk of harm dangerousness assessments but requiring a full PSR and OASys, particularly those involving mental health, personality disorders, chronic substance misuse and domestic violence, not necessarily deemed to be high risk but cases displaying complex offending behaviour needs.
• We would like to be assured that any new templates are AT compatible.
Overall we welcome this strategy with professional judgement central to the decision making process. We also note that the E3 Blue Print is recommending dedicated court teams and appropriate administrative staff which appear to be in line with this new strategy.