Friday, 15 January 2016

The Art of the Understatement

Wikipedia:- Understatement is a form of speech or disclosure which contains an expression of lesser strength than would be expected. Understatement may be employed for emphasis, for humour, or ironically.

HM Inspectorate of Probation Press Release:-

Transforming Rehabilitation - transitional issues remain

Adult probation services under the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme had seen some improvements but more needed to be done, said Paul Wilson, Chief Inspector of Probation. Today HM Inspectorate of Probation published a fourth report on the early implementation of the government’sTransforming Rehabilitation programme.

The report, Transforming Rehabilitation – Early Implementation 4: an Independent Inspection of the Arrangements for Offender Supervision by HM Inspectorate of Probation, relates to findings from inspections undertaken in July and August 2015. Inspectors focused on work undertaken at the point of sentence and allocation by the National Probation Service (NPS), work undertaken by the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and the NPS to manage offenders, and the interfaces between the two organisations. This included work with those released on licence.

The NPS and CRCs came into existence on 1 June 2014 as part of the Ministry of Justice Transforming Rehabilitation programme. This was the first step in a series of changes designed to open up the probation market to new providers, reduce reoffending rates and allow the NPS to focus on managing high risk of harm offenders, those eligible under Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements and foreign national offenders subject to deportation. All court work is delivered by the NPS. CRCs are not involved in preparing reports for court. They manage cases presenting low and medium risk of serious harm and deliver interventions on low, medium and some high risk cases. CRCs were transferred from public to private ownership on 1 February 2015.

Given the scale of the changes involved, it is not surprising that many of the recommendations from earlier reports still apply. Nevertheless, inspectors were pleased to find that some progress had been made in the following areas:
  • the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) had issued national guidance which removed the requirement to complete fully the Case Allocation System process for those cases where the allocation to the NPS is mandatory;
  • the NPS was putting a robust and timely risk management plan in place for all high risk of serious harm cases;
  • the NPS was ensuring that there was a sufficient full initial assessment of the risks medium- and high-risk offenders posed, particularly to children;
  • the NPS was undertaking home visits where appropriate, to manage medium- and high-risk offenders; and
  • CRCs were providing appointments with an offender manager as part of group or duty inductions.
Many of the challenges identified in earlier inspections remain and some of the recommendations made in previous reports are still relevant. In particular:
  • NOMS should explore the possibility of allowing joint access to the nDelius record for a short period after transfer so that incoming information can be handled efficiently;
  • the NPS and CRCs must ensure that relevant information held by either party is shared efficiently at the court hearing stage;
  • the NPS should establish a quality assurance system to improve the accuracy of the completion of the Risk of Serious Recidivism tool;
  • if it is not possible at the time of allocation to gather all the necessary relevant information from partner agencies, NPS staff should clearly indicate on the Case Allocation System what steps have been taken to gather that information and what is required to complete the full analysis;
  • CRCs should improve the quality of full risk of harm assessments;
  • CRCs should ensure they have effective management oversight structures in place for cases where there are concerns over the level of risk of harm; and
  • CRC managers must ensure that offenders engage with their assigned officer at the earliest opportunity.
In order to drive improvements, inspectors made further recommendations, including: the NPS and CRCs should ensure that in all relevant cases sufficient progress is made to reduce those factors making the offender more likely to reoffend; the NPS should improve the availability of information provided by other agencies to ensure as much of the Case Allocation System can be completed prior to allocation of the case; and CRCs should ensure that in all cases where required there is a sufficient review of the risk of harm assessment and management plan.

Paul Wilson said:

“Our primary focus continues to be on the systems and processes which underpin the quality of service and impact on rehabilitation. This is intentional. No-one should underestimate the importance of systems which are the foundation of the operating models of the National Probation Service (NPS) and Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and govern the flows of work between them.

“We have not yet reported on the implementation of Through the Gate resettlement services to short-term prisoners, a key element of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme. With sufficient cases now in the system, progress will be reported early in 2016. Early scoping work suggests that implementation of some schemes in prisons and in the community has been slow and it is not yet clear how the delivery models planned by all CRCs will meet complex resettlement needs. The present rather disjointed provision is a long way from the seamless Through the Gate service so essential to the challenge of reducing high reoffending rates for this group.

“To date I have published reports which draw attention to serious transitional issues. I am clear the transitional period should end early in 2016 and that the NPS and CRCs should then be fully held to account for their work. To this end the inspection regime will change markedly in April 2016. Our new Quality & Impact inspections will focus on the effectiveness of the new probation organisations in reducing offending, protecting the public and ensuring individuals abide by the sentence of the court.”


Notes to Editors:
A copy of this report can be found on HM Inspectorate of Probation’s website at from 15 January 2016.
HMI Probation is an independent inspectorate, sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, and reporting directly to the Secretary of State on the effectiveness of work with adults, children and young people who have offended, aimed at reducing reoffending and protecting the public. Further information about the work of HMI Probation is at


  1. There is no point in having an inspectorate of probation if it hides its inspection findings. This is collusion with the Ministry of Justice and the private probation companies. It was not a coincidence that the last Chief Inspector was married to Sodexo. It is very suspicious that the current one has omitted the truth about the impact of TR, even though we're now reading about the problems in the press.

    If I earned £135,000 per year as a Chief Inspector I'd probably say whatever protected my position too. I don't think that Probation Service (NPS) and Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) should even be mentioned in the same breath or inspected together. CRC's are now run by private companies which have cut corners and are actively hiving off staff at every opportunity.

  2. "HMI Probation is an independent inspectorate, sponsored by the Ministry of Justice..."


    1. It would be like stating: "World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) sponsored by Amgen (who first marketed EPO)"

  3. The point is that the Probation Service was made worse in the very first place! It wasn't perfect we know. But when you take a fully functioning service with high achievement then deliberately break it up for politically ideological reasons and completely wreck it, impeding its ability to do the job required of it then we have ask the inspectorate, why are you not holding the MoJ and NOMS properly to account for not pointing this out to the government of the day responsible for this omnishambles?

  4. After the long transitional period - honeymoon? Wilson now says no more slack on the 'serious transitional issues' and that in future TR will be held to account. The pressure to fiddle the figures will intensify and hopefully these antics will be widely shared through this blog. The serious transitional issues won't go away, because they are inherent in the design and structure of TR - a crab will never walk straight.

    1. Wilson is committing his successor, who was apparently appointed after being advised to apply by the Secretary of State. He finishes this month.

    2. "Memory Lane"

      October 2015: -

      "The controversial privatisation of probation services is no “omnishambles”, interim chief inspector Paul Wilson tells Sarah Aston. But he does worry that resource pressures could lead to a repeat of the Daniel Sonnex tragedy"

  5. Yesterday I was due to have 6 offenders coming in to see me. Only 1 turned up. Travel was not an issue as all were local. I work for CRC and have noticed a steady decline in attendance. Even after engagement panels no improvement. The attendance rate of my caseload used to be excellent with barely a need to breach. Now I am considering breach on a number of cases many of whom have had engagement panels arranged (not always attended). I dont like breaching and I dont like being in this position. This change is steady and appears to have bedded in. This would seem to be a direct result of the changes in case management and officer status? associated with the changes under TR. I am now so unsure in the work that I do. A position I have never been in before. I do not really know now what my job is. That's the true outcome of TR. My community is less safe from offending of that I am sure. Recidivism is increasing and at a pace.

    1. What's an engagement panel? Excuse my ignorance...

  6. You start off with a uniform joined up system split it in two and then end up devising mechanisms trying to make it uniform again because its not working. Ffs why ? Oh by the way nothing to do with ideology, privatisation,profit.

    1. I know! 'Our primary focus continues to be on the systems and processes... systems which are the foundation of the operating models of the National Probation Service (NPS) and Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and govern the flows of work between them'

      What a waste of time and money and what stress it puts on those of us trying to make the unworkable work. In the mean time the public are at risk.

  7. I went through the recent inspection and it was crystal clear that the inspectors did not want to hear about anything negative-not one person in our office commended managers for how they deal with change yet when we saw the feedback it was glowing and hastily transmitted by the ACE....independent my arse

  8. There is a distinct stench of irony that a fair few of the lobbyists skulking the corridors of Whitehall are no better than those of us probation officers sit across the desk from on appointments. The only real difference being the lobbyists have someone who listens to them. My opinions have changed through my year and a half dealings with NPS. Inside a prison, The others that share the same houseblock have nothing nice at all to say about probation officers. "they are there just to recall you", "Just sit there and tell them what you think they want to hear" Amongst many horror and sob stories that would have Simon Cowell in tears during your audition. Barring my first encounter with my probation officer using the famed blitzkrieg approach, Things have not really been that bad. The majority of people i have dealt with, Like many posters on here seem to have a genuine passion and a degree of care you would hope to meet on entering the system.
    That being said, I can't see any bright future for NPS. The bandwagon is already rolling. It is no longer about the needs of the community they serve or those on license. The only statement that matters now is the ones given at the annual shareholders meetings. If anyone thinks or hopes for a failure by these companies. To quote Lawrence fishburn "You're living in a dream world, Neo". This is only the start. There is no opportunity to evolve and adapt. The cause isn't helped by those who wear rose tinted glasses. I am sure there were many things that could have been improved upon within the probation service, Although there are a fair few will argue with that. I have been passed around from one probation officer to another. From one who you get along with and treats you like a person to mystic meg with attitude. It can't be helped because that's the way things seem to be at the moment.

    1. Thanks for taking the trouble - we don't often hear things from the other side of the desk - can I encourage you to say more and possibly pen a guest blog? My contact details are on the profile page.