Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Lets Look at E3 (5)

Chapter 4 Custody

4.1 What does the model look like now? 
Work with offenders in custody will continue to be a large proportion of NPS work. The NPS aim in relation to Parole, Recall and Foreign National Prisoners (FNP) work will continue to be work undertaken by PO and PSO grades according to the risk level they are able to manage. 

The NPS caseload predominantly comprises of offenders serving lengthy custodial sentences for serious violence and sexual offences including Foreign National Prisoners serving 12 months or more and subject to deportation. 

Since 1st June 2014, the NPS has had responsibility for the completion of all parole reports. These reports are critical in enabling the Parole Board to decide who may be safely released into the community on parole licence to the NPS. 

The NPS has access to the Public Protection Unit (PPUD) database designed to support the General Parole Process (GPP) and used by all the agencies involved in the GPP, i.e. PPCS, establishments, and the Parole Board. However, the NPS current access is limited and we use it predominantly to identify and plan for Parole Reports. A pilot in Wales allows Offender Managers to have enhanced system access to improve the availability of information and documentation. 

The current process for assuring the quality of parole reports consists of SPO countersignature of all reports and retrospective audits of a sample of reports. These measures have not produced the necessary improvements in the quality of the assessments which underpin the reports.

If offenders on licence are recalled to custody their cases are reviewed routinely by the Parole Board at set intervals which can involve an oral hearing. The Public Protection Casework Section (PPCS) has the power of executive release without referral to the parole board where the OM supports this, however this has been under used. Similarly, PI 24/2015 encourages practitioners to look for creative and responsive ways to secure compliance short of recall (whether in the form of additional restrictive measures or supportive protective measures) and we are yet to see its full effect given its recent implementation. 

The NPS work with Foreign National Prisoners is undertaken differently across the divisions. Each division has a FNP single point of contact (SPOC) and this has improved information sharing and links with Home Office Immigration Enforcement (HOIE) which reduces gaps in service delivery and ensures prisoners can access appropriate prison interventions pending the confirmation of their immigration status. Wider developments also impinge in this area of practice, including use of electronic tags, and the recent announcement of a prison in Jamaica for returning Jamaican nationals. It is therefore important that the policy of the NPS, Prison Service and HOIE are closely aligned. 

Additionally as part of the court process, the NPS is required to inform the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC) about remand cases allowing checks on immigration status to be made by HOIE.

4.2 What do we want the future model to look like? 
We intend to focus on the early part of the sentence to ensure that prisoners undertake work with the aim of reducing risk to make release safe. A review of the timing of the MAPPA process will be undertaken to ensure the most effective and comprehensive assessment is available when needed to inform targeted sentence planning and improve information sharing. 

We will make the best use of the interventions in custody and those eligible will be able to access them early in their sentence with professionals involved in the case working together more effectively. 

We intend to make better use of technology in all areas of work with prisoners and in strengthening information sharing with other agencies. 

Following release, we will consider the use of alternatives to recall where this is feasible and appropriate to manage risk. 

We will enhance quality assurance of custody work by probation staff, especially in respect of Parole and Recall reports and reviews. Front loading quality assurance into the parole process will lead to better quality reports delivered on time so parole hearings are less likely to be adjourned as a result and there will be a corresponding increase in the release of suitable prisoners at first parole hearing. 

We envisage working with colleagues in PPCS to maximise the use of telephone and video conferencing in more of our cases so that Offender Managers waste less time travelling to prison visits and oral hearings.

With regards to the recall of prisoners we have inherited different approaches from the 35 trusts. Similarly, there are differences in the review of risk assessment and sentence plans following return to custody, and access to interventions which need to be completed to facilitate and reduce risk, prior to release. 

Work with Foreign National Prisoners also needs to be harmonised across the NPS, particularly focusing on enhancing joint working with HOIE and prisons. We intend to standardise the work undertaken with Foreign National Prisoners (FNP). 

4.3 End state proposals 

4.3.1 Parole 
A proposal has been made to review when the MAPPA process should commence, to ensure that there is a robust and comprehensive risk assessment, risk management and sentence plan available at the earliest opportunity. This will inform realistic and achievable objectives and maximise opportunities for release at the first parole hearing in the right cases. This proposal will be explored further with operational colleagues and Head of MAPPA at NOMS. This is with a view to finding the best way of securing the outcomes the proposal seeks to achieve. This proposal would require changes to the statutory MAPPA guidance and it falls to the MAPPA Responsible Authorities National Steering Group (RANSG) to consult all agencies involved, including police forces and the Prison Service and to agree any proposed changes going forward. 

Our proposal is to improve the quality and timeliness of parole processes. To achieve this we will develop a Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) that will allow the parole board to flag up cases that do not meet the required quality standard, support the use of the Parole Manual and enable dip sampling of cases through the offender journey. Linked to this there will be new and regular parole and oral hearing training for Offender Managers.

We believe that by improving the quality of parole reports we will mitigate the risk of removing the bureaucratic routine SPO signature. 

We also propose a wider use of ROTLs for attendance on accredited programmes, where these are not available in prisons. 

We want to ensure a better use of PPUD information and an improved process will enable us to have access to all the documentation to prepare and complete good quality parole reports on time. 

4.3.2 Recall 
Our proposal is to improve the quality and timeliness of recall, thereby ultimately reducing the number of oral hearings. Additionally when appropriate we want to use executive re-releases more effectively where release has been recommended and encourage staff to be more creative in using alternatives to recall in appropriate cases.

4.3.3 Foreign National Prisoners 
We are exploring establishing specialist divisional units to be responsible for the management of FNP who meet HOIE deportation criteria and where possible, co-located models such as hubs (physical or virtual). Using the IOM approach to better coordinate with HOIE and a specialised workforce will provide a more effective way of managing this group of offenders. The Foreign National Unit would hold the responsibility for managing Foreign National Prisoners during the course of their sentence, through to deportation and release. The unit would need to have direct links with local LDU/ Clusters within the division in order to arrange for the OM transfer should the offender be released into the community. 

However, we have to work at a slower pace to allow for the Offender Management in Custody review to develop further before we can provide clearer details about FNP work. In the meantime a pilot FNP unit (in Maidstone) in South East and East Region (SEER) will test out these proposals. 

4.4 Impact on service delivery 
The QAF process will ensure that the author has a full understanding of the case and takes into account the victim’s perspective to produce a good quality report. This will enable the Parole Board to make an informed and rigorous assessment of risk without having to seek additional information. This will ultimately mean that parole eligible prisoners or executive re-releases are released without delay, which will in turn have a positive impact in respect of prison population pressures.

Working with partners in a coordinated way will enable decisions to be made much faster and provide a better quality report and information about offenders. An earlier, more comprehensive risk assessment including access to interventions and intelligence sharing will improve service delivery for all offenders and in particular, for FNP. 

Specialist working in FNP hubs will improve staff knowledge and in turn have a positive impact on offenders. We will ensure that care and priority is placed on training when staff move into areas of specialised work. 

4.5 Impact on staff 
There is no change in the way staff are being asked to carry out the activities in relation to parole reports or recall. In both these areas of work a revised quality framework and the increased level of feedback will enable continuous improvement in quality. 

Moreover, a comprehensive risk assessment and sentence plan that links to key professionals will support the aim of enabling more safe release of prisoners at an earlier point in their sentence. 

Improved use of PPUD will enable better tracking of parole reports and enable staff to respond more promptly to any difficulties in preparing these. 

A greater use of telephone and video conferences will reduce staff travel time to attend oral hearings. This will of course be dependent on suitable telephone and video equipment being available for staff to use and Parole Board and prison support. There will be some more complex cases where the attendance of the OM in person is appropriate.

(more to follow)


  1. There is no mention of OMs in prison holding cases, rather the assumption seems to be that OMs in the community will continue to supervise cases. Have I got this right?

  2. Danny Shaw–Verified account ‏@DannyShawBBCNick Hardwick said Ministry of Justice was trying to control the watchdog's weekly spending and which inspection staff he deployed.2:34 AM - 20 Jan 2016


      In reading this letter you can see that the MoJ wants to nobble the independence of the prison inspectorate, particularly a critical inspectorate that takes its job seriously.