Tuesday, 4 October 2016

TTG Not Working - Official

Here we have yet more official confirmation that Chris Grayling's promised help for the short-term prisoners under TR was just so much hot air. This is the latest joint inspection report published today:-


‘Through the Gate’ is a flagship policy of government, intended to bring about a step change in rehabilitation, and so reduce reoffending. New services have been rolled out in prisons to prepare prisoners for release and resettlement and increase their prospects of leading a better life. When the policy was introduced in spring 2015, post-release licence supervision and rehabilitation support was extended to those formerly ineligible (serving short sentences) so as to increase the impact on reoffending overall. 

In our fourth Transforming Rehabilitation report published in January 2016, we signalled our concern that Through the Gate expectations were not being given priority on the ground. Probation providers were focused on the more immediate demands of leading and managing wholesale change to the delivery model for all probation services. Now, more than six months hence we find little change and little delivered, albeit the reasons for that are more complex than those holding back improvement last year. 

Newly formed Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) are responsible for Through the Gate provision, but are not sufficiently incentivised under their contract arrangements to give priority to this work. Payment is triggered by task completion rather than anything more meaningful. Additional financial rewards are far off and dependent on reoffending rates that are not altogether within the CRC’s gift. CRC total workloads (and therefore income) are less than anticipated when contracts were signed. As CRCs continue to develop and adjust their operating models accordingly, CRCs are hard-pressed and are generally giving priority to work that is rewarded with more immediate and more substantial payment. These detailed contractual arrangements must change and develop, for the government’s rehabilitation policies to be delivered well. 

Even then, our expectations should be tempered. Reducing reoffending is difficult, success in individual cases is by no means guaranteed even when everything possible is done, and we find that some issues are most testing: mental illness and addiction can be enduring, and accommodation for former offenders increasingly hard to find. 

Nevertheless, the prospects of success are greater if those involved are determined to do the best possible job and if systems are designed to support them fully in their endeavours. Instead we have found CRCs’ efforts pedestrian at best. What is more, they are often hampered and frustrated by ineffective early screening of prisoners. These are done by busy prison staff and are simply not fit for the purpose they should serve. In our view, this system must change materially so that those responsible and accountable for rehabilitation (CRCs) can get off to a good start in each case. 

There were great hopes for Through the Gate, and there is the potential still for the step change that government and others dearly wish to see. We hope that our detailed findings assist government and the National Offender Management Service to develop the contractual arrangements with CRCs, and to review systems, processes and resettlement targets for prisons, CRCs and the National Probation Service (NPS). CRCs signalled innovative approaches to Through the Gate work in their bids for contracts, and we would like to see those delivered alongside the well-established and evidenced interventions that we know can make a difference.

Executive Summary 

The strategic vision for Through the Gate services has not been realised Through the Gate services had been in place for almost a year at the time of our fieldwork. Delivering the Through the Gate aspect of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms has been a significant task. To set up and deliver a resettlement service to meet the needs of this cohort of offenders would always be difficult. Despite this, it was reasonable to expect that core services would be in place at the time of our inspection. 

Some of the new services that were proposed in the bids for contracts had promise, but had not been implemented. The provision that we saw was some distance from the original vision of a seamless service from the beginning to end of the sentence. We found little evidence of the anticipated creativity or innovation in the new services being delivered by the CRCs. 

The minimum contractual requirement is to complete and review resettlement plans for all prisoners, and this is the main driver for the activity of the CRCs. We found no evidence that payment by results was in anyway incentivising the work when compared with the direct contractual requirements. This was not altogether surprising given the comparative limited weight of payment by results and the time lag before the reoffending outcome data becomes available. In addition, the achievement of reduced reoffending is not wholly within the control of the CRC, unlike the completion of mandatory processes as part of the ‘fee-for-service’. 

The absence of common resettlement targets for prisons, CRCs and the NPS meant that there could not be a ‘whole system approach’ to the resettlement of offenders. 

The needs of individual prisoners were not properly identified and planned for 

Most prisoners serving short sentences had multiple and complex needs. Basic custody screenings, completed at the start of sentence by HM Prison staff, drew only upon what the prisoner had said and were a wholly inadequate basis for resettlement planning. The National Offender Management Service guidance for completion of these initial screenings did not promote depth or quality. Resettlement plans, completed by CRC staff within five days of the screening, did not robustly address the most urgent resettlement needs. In too many cases, resettlement planning consisted of no more than referrals to other agencies, recorded as completed once an email had been sent. Prisoners had not been involved with setting objectives or given a copy of their plan. The emphasis on completing processes led to adverse behaviours such as the creation and review of a resettlement plan on the same day, and copying initial plans with only minimal update. 

Not enough was being done to help prisoners to get ready for release or to manage risks

Too many prisoners reached their release date without their immediate resettlement needs having been met, or even recognised. Some CRC senior managers reported difficulties recruiting organisations to provide resettlement services in the supply chains. The need to replace organisations in their supply chains had also been disruptive to the resettlement of prisoners. 

Not enough assistance was given to prisoners to resolve debts. Too many prisoners were released without any accommodation. None of the prisoners had been helped into employment by Through the Gate services and we did not see examples of handover to specialist education or training resources in the community. The low number of mentors available did not match the early promise of CRC contract bids, or the numbers of prisoners who might have benefited from this type of support on release. 

Work at the low level of intensity that we found was unlikely to achieve the aim of resettlement and reduced reoffending. We were further concerned that the risks of harm presented to others by prisoners were not always recognised. Where they were known, CRC responsible officers did too little to manage risk of harm, which meant that victims were not always protected, particularly in cases of domestic abuse. 

The level of communication between staff in prisons and the community was poor and there was very little continuity between services in prison and in the community. Prospects after release None of the CRCs we visited were able to provide us with any information on the outcomes they had achieved for prisoners receiving Through the Gate services. Our sample showed concerning rates of reoffending and recall to prison and unsatisfactory initial outcomes for basic needs such as being in settled accommodation. 

The picture was more positive for women with more services available to help them than men. Overall, however, many responsible officers conveyed a lack of hope and an almost fatalistic acceptance of the likelihood of failure. This did not bode well for the released prisoner or the wider community.


The Ministry of Justice and National Offender Management Service should: 
  • consider whether the current arrangement of paying a ‘fee-for-service’ and payment by results is having the desired effect on service provision 
  • review the contractual requirements so that they better incentivise CRCs to develop their approach to the successful resettlement of prisoners, for example: 
  • ► review the payments for Through the Gate services so that release planning for prisoners is given due weight 
  • ► introduce measures based on service quality in addition to simply completing processes 
  • ► promote a ‘whole system approach’ to resettlement by the introduction of common resettlement targets for prisons, CRCs and the NPS. 
The National Offender Management Service should: 
  • undertake a fundamental review of the basic custody screening so that it provides an assessment of both the needs of the prisoner and any risk of harm that they present to others 
  • require CRC resettlement staff in prison to complete the basic custody screening in order to provide continuity between the initial screening and subsequent resettlement plan 
  • promote closer working between CRCs, prison staff and NPS responsible officers so that there is continuity of resettlement support, effective public protection and oversight throughout the sentence 
  • facilitate effective resettlement and public protection work by developing IT systems that allow information to be exchanged between CRCs, the NPS and prison case management systems. 
HM Prisons should: 
  • make sure that all agencies working within the prison use the National Offender Management Information System (NOMIS) to record information about prisoners 
  • make sure that population management does not interfere with resettlement planning. 
Community Rehabilitation Companies should: 
  • develop and implement effective resettlement services to meet the requirements of accommodation, employment, finance, benefit and debt 
  • utilise other available services within resettlement prisons when undertaking prerelease activities, for example mental health support and education and training provided by other commissioned services 
  • make available full and detailed information about Through the Gate services to all prisoners and prison staff, and to staff in CRCs and the NPS in the community 
  • make sure that prisoners receiving short sentences are assigned to a responsible officer without delay 
  • engage meaningfully with the prisoner by involving them in drawing up and reviewing resettlement plans. These should be based upon their individual needs, the actions required to promote resettlement and reduce their likelihood of reoffending and causing harm to others. 
The National Probation Service should: 
  • make sure that prisoners receiving short sentences are assigned a responsible officer without delay 
  • make sure that all responsible officers have full information about the range of Through the Gate services available in all resettlement prisons within their area.

This from the Howard League's press release:-

Public put at risk by probation sell-off

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to the joint report by HM Chief Inspectors of Probation and Prisons on Through the Gate resettlement services for short-term prisoners, published today (Tuesday 4 October).

The report studies the impact of the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation reforms, under which all prisoners sentenced to 12 months or less are now subject to 12 months’ supervision by probation services on release. The reforms also involved the break-up of the public probation service, with a large part of it handed to 21 privately-run Community Rehabilitation Companies who are now responsible for supporting people as they pass ‘Through the Gate’ from prison to the community. 

Inspectors found that services were poor. Too many prisoners reached their release date without their immediate needs having been met or even recognised. Inspectors were concerned by the high rate at which people had gone on to reoffend and been recalled to prison. Of the 86 cases inspected, not one prisoner had been helped into employment. More than one-third of prisoners were released with nowhere to live. Not enough help was given to people in debt. Victims were not protected, as the risk of harm posed by released prisoners was not always recognised. In 61 per cent of cases inspected, the Community Rehabilitation Company had taken insufficient account of public protection issues. This problem was particularly noticeable in domestic abuse cases. 

 Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: 
“Transforming Rehabilitation was supposed to turn lives around, reduce reoffending and make us all safer. It is doing precisely the opposite – failing to help people find homes and employment, failing to prevent people committing further offences, and failing by exposing victims of crime to more danger. When a Secretary of State refuses to listen to expert advice and ploughs ahead with ideas that are divorced from reality, disastrous policies will always follow. This reckless experiment with public safety, which the Howard League consistently warned against, is a catastrophic example, and its impact will be felt for many years.I call on the new Secretary of State to monitor these contracts with exacting care so that they may be rescinded without any additional cost to the taxpayer. The probation service needs to be reconstructed so that it serves the public and victims of crime.”
The failure of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme is becoming increasingly clear.
In August, HM Inspectorate of Probation reported that the quality of probation work in Durham had declined since the Transforming Rehabilitation programme began. A similar report on services in Derbyshire, which reached the same conclusion, was published the following month. Less than two weeks ago, the Public Accounts Committee’s report on Transforming Rehabilitation concluded that the government’s promised “rehabilitation revolution” was far from complete. Only last week, HM Inspectorate of Prisons reported that women’s services had deteriorated and were “under threat” following the implementation of the programme.


Transforming Rehabilitation: At What Cost? File on 4 BBC Radio 4 8pm today

The split and part privatisation of the UK probation system in June 2014 saw huge changes to the service, with high risk offenders managed by the new National Probation Service and low to medium risk offenders managed by Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs). Two years on, probation officers report a system that has been 'ripped apart', with two sides often failing to communicate. There are concerns over rising caseloads, falling staffing levels and the number of murders committed by offenders released from prison on licence.

File on 4 speaks to families who have lost loved ones, and hears how they have had to fight to find out the full extent of the failings of the probation system in their cases. Charities report particular concerns over vulnerable women in the probation system, with many being recalled to prison for breaching probation orders, following short sentences for minor offences. As Transforming Rehabilitation is scrutinised by the Public Accounts Committee and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation, File on 4 asks if the changes are putting the public at risk?


  1. This quote is from a dishonest article in the Telegraph written by Grayling and Gove.

    'The [THG] service now provides support to those offenders who were falling through the gaps, and has driven greater innovation and efficiency from the private and voluntary sectors. For the first time, almost all offenders now receive targeted support on release, getting the help they need to turn away from crime.'

    It was written last February and its untruthful assertions are exposed by the Inspectorate's report.


  2. Local TTG services have delivered no positive outcomes for any of my clients but have significantly increased my workload with lots of liaison and reversing their damage. Recent communication from a local TTG provider concerns me that they are making efforts to claim credit for outcomes that have been achieved following release and without their involvement.

  3. I usually hate it when people say I told you so but in this case it's appropriate to shout it from the rooftops. The issue now however, is what happens next. Weasel words from the new minister indicate he'll not hesitate to do what's necessary to protect the public. Let's hold him to account then. We want a comprehensive independent judge led inquiry into TR. The terms of reference should be to hold those responsible to account and to recommend changes to enable performance to return to levels achieved under the Trust's. Short sentence provision under ORA must be repealed and replaced by a framework that allows probation professionals to use limited resources to target work with risky people properly. The list of necessary reforms is a mile long. Come on NAPO, UNISON and the PI. it's time to stand up and be seen and heard. The inspectorate are giving you the ammunition. For fucks sake, Get firing.

  4. From BBC news.

    Are you a former prisoner under supervision? How have you been supported? You can share your experience by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.
    Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:
    WhatsApp: +44 7525 900971
    Send pictures/video to yourpics@bbc.co.uk
    Upload your pictures / video here
    Tweet: @BBC_HaveYourSay
    Text an SMS or MMS to 61124 (UK) or +44 7624 800 100 (international)
    Or use the form below
    Your contact details

    Your E-mail address (required)

    Town & Country

    Your telephone number

    Comments (required)

    If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.


    1. Getafix - it was indeed in the spam filter. I'll be preparing an update on this topic for later, including the BBC piece.

    2. I hope that not only prisoners but practitioners contact the BBC in the ways suggested above by 'Getafix'

      I note the issue did not feature in BBC Radio 4's 8 am news or their interview with the prome minister immediately afterwards.

      REMEMBER as Home Secretary long before the last Police and Crime Commissioner Elections - held in May THIS YEAR - she issued a statement in her and the then Secretary of State for Probation (Michael Gove) names saying after the PCC elections they woould be consulting about the PCCs taking on the responsibility of probation - has that been forgotten also?

      "Here is that quote from Theresa May on 4th February 2016 made in a speech delivered at the Policy Exchange organisation

      " So after the May elections, the Government will set out further proposals for police and crime commissioners. Because as a number of PCCs have argued, youth justice, probation and court services can have a significant impact on crime in their areas and there are real efficiencies to be had from better integration and information sharing. We have yet to decide the full extent of these proposals and the form they will take, but I am clear that there is significant opportunity here for PCCs to lead the same type of reform they have delivered in emergency services in the wider criminal justice system."


  5. Thank you to the Inspectorate for speaking up. Those of us on the front line, knew all this and experience it every day, but it is helpful to know someone, somewhere is reporting it. Please someone do something about those awful basic oasys screens; it is obvious they are completed without any reference to the people they supposedly reflect, just a useless tick box activity, which seeks to satisfy NOMs. HDC coming up for approval, without any identified address for checking and rotl being delayed due to lack of staff and the misappropriation of staff time on ticking all those useless boxes.

    I urge all colleagues to record delays, poor communication, the absence of information and generally high levels of incompetence in Parom 1's and SDR's. I cannot see anyone taking any notice, unless we get the Judiciary and Parole Board on side.

  6. Here we have the new Justice Secretary's big idea as outlined in the Daily Telegraph and ahead of her speech to the Tory conference later today:-

    Ms Truss sees prison reform as “one of the main social challenges we face as a country” and believes those who have served on the front line can help.

    She said ex-soldiers are “brilliantly suited” to mentoring inmates, adding that their “discipline and integrity bring a really important sense of purpose”.

    “It is about the value of discipline, but also the approach to work – the importance of holding down a job, the importance of contributing to society. It’s all of those aspects,” she said.

    “I think people who have served in our military, our incredibly brave Armed Forces, are ideally suited to motivating people and making that change happen.”

    1. For such a young minister Liz has had quite a career, but this criticism from Wikipedia is probably the best response to what she intends to say today.

      Critics who have attempted to engage with her, according to George Monbiot in The Guardian,[70] have said that she is "indissolubly wedded to a set of theories about how the world should be, that are impervious to argument, facts or experience. She was among the first ministers to put her own department on the block in the latest spending review, volunteering massive cuts. She seems determined to dismantle the protections that secure our quality of life: the rules and agencies defending the places and wildlife we love."[70]

    2. That is also my impression of Michael Gove

    3. I served 23 years in the Army, joined probation at 42 yrs of age as I felt I could offer something. 13 yrs later with Probation now CRC. I can say that in all my days I have never seen such an unmitigated disaster as TR. It has gone from joke, quickly moving to farce.... We are now in the pantomime phase . No matter who you are: WL, Sodexo, Seetec, even good old PF who are flying under the radar (PF : look at your TTG with Shelter, a disaster but you are hiding it well.. beware the Dame Inspector, she is on your case).
      I really do not know how you untangle this mess. I am constantly amazed at the integrity and the sheer stamina of my collegues , who, despite the utter madness they are faced with, never forget why they do this.No saints; but you have to admire it.
      I would have you in my trench any day of the week, and twice on Sunday...

  7. Ex-soldiers not that old chestnut. My old probation office had 4 out of 7 probation officers from the Army. Strong thinkers who would not put up with the current management b*ll sh*t.

    1. Then they've no business on probation. It annoys me how military people are supposed to follow a chain of command but they can't seem to follow that outside the army.

    2. 5 out of 50 of my caseload are ex army! All DV. Form your own impression.

    3. Yep I've yet to come across a good ex army officer who isn't aggressive thinking the office is a battle field.

  8. Regarding the Victoria Derbyshire television programme this morning and the Probation feature about a serious case review. Firstly, heartfelt sympathies to the family concerned for the loss of their loved one under terrible and tragic circumstances. Secondly, serious case reviews even when a system and professionals are working well can evidence shortcomings or not and can find that serious incidents were reasonably preventable or not. Thirdly, what this blog and others, Probation Unions as an example, have highlighted for some considerable time and now more recently a series of inspections and emerging case reviews is a system in disarray and professionals struggling to cope with changes that were forced upon them. Collectively these changes are known as Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) which resulted in the fragmentation and privatisation of large parts of the Probation Service which were predicted by many to cause to cause major disruption to an important, and once high performing, public service. My overwhelming feeling is one of sadness and I only hope that integrity, in the fullest sense of its meaning, is restored to the Probation Services and as soon as is practically possible.

    1. Blogs, unions, staff have all warned against Grayling Rehabilitation Revolution, but I think it appropriate to also remind people that the governments own risk register warned against it also. It should also be remembered that the government refused to publish that document and only come to public attention by way of a leak.
      They knew by way of their own commissioned risk assessment that failure was a very high probability. They should be reminded of that when they're being interviewed.


  9. Although, there is very little to add to what has already been said so many 1000's of times before and amply evidenced in all the Pre TR Consultations, House of Commons debates, Hallam University Press, the National Audit Office, recent Inspection Report's, Academia, High Profile Bloggers/Social Commentators, Howard League of Penal Reform, Napo Press, Keep Probation Public,Probation Friends,Jim Browns Blog, Local and National Press and now another BBC File on 4 review which coincides with a damning report of Graylings Flagship 'Through the Gate'.

    I am the first to celebrate daily Probations Legacy and all its good works. Further, to think/pray positively about all aspects of Probation Practice and Partnerships/Interventions which are being sustained/built on across the Country. However, I cannot ignore the fact that All too often what was described as a 'reckless and a flawed' process with little if any risk assessment in the early stages and bulldozed through prior to the Election is now causing Reputational damage to what so many hold very dear to their heart. 'Probation' Key issues about how Contracts have been redefined to suit new Providers, No current evidence on Re-offending rates, Significant reductions in staffing levels, Impact on local Partnerships/Interventions, constant issues around IT and allowances made for the bedding in period have ALL been foretold and consistently highlighted by ALL those that have been active in highlighting the impact of TR during 3/4 years of this Long Haul Journey. The greatest travesty/tragedy of ALL this is that it is again those dedicated staff across NPS/CRC that will be apportioned blame for the current failings when in fact Probation have consistently striven to do its very best against the market forces of Privatisation and the Split. I recall many letters of re-assurance from Ministers Significantly, that TR would allow Probation Professionals to do what they do best Protect the Public from Serious Harm and bring innovation of a diverse range of Providers to reduce offending. I doubt there will many readers of this Blog or indeed many who follow my Twitter that could put their hands truly
    on their heart and say that TR is working. I too look forward to the Minister promised review of TR and wonder whether it will truly reflect what is being experienced on the ground. The question remains does anyone care enough to really listen to the hearts, minds and voices of those that experience this daily. As always, my thoughts and prayers go out daily to ALL those who deliver their very best during very challenging and difficult times.

    iangould5 Ian Gould

  10. Before some of us left probation we warned that TTG was not going to work and it was a cosmetic exercise to convince the public that "something" was being done. TTG is expensive and private companies are reluctant to spend money on it.....

  11. Different topic but proof positive that this government just fails to learn and keeps repeating its mistakes. A snippet from our local newspaper with a strapline entitled "Legal bid fails" shown over a G4S logo.
    It says "A legal charity has failed in a legal challenge over the Government's appointment of security group G4S to run a national helpline for vulnerable people. The Law Centres Network had argued in the High Court that there was "widespread public concern" over the choice of G4S as a result of is "chequered" human rights record".
    Just what hold does G4S have over government ministers to enable them to "persuade" them to keep giving them contracts?? Answers on a postcard please to ......