Sunday, 4 December 2016

News From Probation Institute 5

Mention has been made previously of Bob Neill MP and the Justice Committee having recently held a private session on probation privatisation. Held under 'Chatham House Rules', strictly-speaking we're not supposed to know who attended or what was said, but both Ian Lawrence from Napo and Prof Paul Senior from the Probation Institute have publicly mentioned being present. 

As we all know, the PI has come under considerable criticism from contributors to this blog for failing to speak openly and plainly about the realities of TR, so it's particularly interesting to have insight into what might have been said in private from publication of a one page briefing document from the day:- 
Presented by Professor Paul Senior Emeritus Professor of Probation Studies, Chair, Probation Institute 21 Oct 2016


Predicted and predictable 

Speed - to seek to implement an entire system at one go with an unseemly rush and no trials or piloting was always high risk and unnecessary. 

Resourcing - to implement a new element of provision - compulsory post-prison supervision - previously absent for short sentence prisoners - with no additional resources always fraught with risk 

De-professionalization - the need to save money would trump the need for quality services. Tasks previously done by highly trained staff would be dumbed down to cheaper, less trained staff. 


Pattern of concerns emerging from official reports (The Audit Office, HMI Probation, HMI Prisons, Clinks, Public Accounts Committee), extensive media coverage and emergent research 

Bifurcation - the fracturing of delivery has caused additional problems for providing joined up justice. IT systems not talking, separation of office spaces, demarcation of roles, confusion for other agencies 

Accountability - increasing complexity and overlapping roles in this plurality of delivery modes makes coordination and joined up practices more difficult and accountability less certain 

Public Safety - with practice under such pressure and diffusion of responsibilities there are heightened risks regarding the management of Serious Offence Reviews and the consequences for staff of high caseloads of those supervising entirely high risk cases and agencies struggling to meet demands 

Management of risk - the splitting of risk levels between agencies seen as a pragmatic rather than a practice-driven benefit. all staff need to be aware of the dynamics of risk as it changes over time and circumstances 

Distorted decision making - evidence emerging that decision to breach on such as community payback or non-attendance at supervision driven by Payment by Results concerns not the demands of the case Severe financial pressures driving the business - changes in resource allocation due to changes in number distributions leading to staff uncertainty, redundancies and planning blight 

Hemorrhaging of staff - stress, redundancy and disillusionment leading to experienced staff exited both NPS and CRCs leaving the agencies with inexperienced and often new staff not equipped to deliver a complex business 


Future directions 

Maintain professional services via regulation - staff increasingly uncertain of role and struggling to meet the demands of the new systems. their professional status is undermined by the problems identified above by organizational changes and uncertainties. 

Case for a Regulatory Body - founded on the need for consistent, coherent and agreed standards and qualifications to which all practitioners and managers, in all agencies, can adhere; to be a profession. This case is underpinned by the need for appropriate staff to manage risk; treat individuals with respect and dignity; and develop staff to improve practice outcomes. 

More funding across the criminal justice system - The whole system has been subject to cutbacks which impact both on individual services e.g. prisons, policing and probation and therefore on shared systems of intervention e.g. Through the Gate provision, Integrated Offender Management, joint MAPPA arrangements


Dear Members

November has been a busy and productive month at the Probation Institute

1. The Probation-Sentencer Liaison Network (PSLN), a joint initiative with the Magistrates Association, launched at Middlesex University and Manchester Magistrates Court addressed by Dame Glenys Stacey. The two launch events demonstrated the urgency of improving communication between all probation services and sentencers. Key issues and discussion points from the two events will be posted on the PSLN Pages on the PI website which is open for Registrations at

Our thanks to Dame Glenys for her informative and very accessible presentation and to our hosts for the two launches. Some important areas of good practice were shared, also thinking about justice devolution and problem solving courts, including the Women's Court in Manchester.

2. The PI was represented at a Round Table Seminar on Community Sentences as part of the Lammy Review of Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System and we now look forward to a one to one meeting.

3. We were also represented at the Electronic Monitoring Action Group (EMAG) and will keep a close watching brief on the GPS Monitoring Pilots launched by MOJ this month as we propose Probation Institute Policy on Electronic Monitoring.

4. The application to develop a Trailblazer Apprenticeship for the role of Rehabilitation Practitioner, submitted to DfE by the Probation Institute on behalf of CRCs led by Seetec, and voluntary organisations, has been accepted. The employer development group will get back to work on this important project before Christmas, working with key representative groups.

5. De Montfort University have kindly agreed to host the Probation Trainees Conference 2017 which will take place on Wednesday 5th April for all trainees.

6. The Probation Institute Research Committee met on 24th November and with the Griffins Research Society we have proposed joint actions to implement three areas of research into aspects of probation practice with women, previously posted on this site and available at

The Research Committee will now also take forward actions towards becoming a Centre of Excellence within our proposals, gathering increasing support, for a Regulatory Body for Probation, Rehabilitation and Resettlement.

7. The Westminster Legal Policy Forum on the Future of Probation on 22nd November proved an interesting discussion. We heard from HMIP, the Audit Commission, the NPS Director of Probation, NOMS Operational Assurance, a CRC, Napo, voluntary sector agencies, and a software solutions company on data sharing infrastructure. The quote "meeting the target but missing the point" (the point being effectiveness and quality) seemed to resonate throughout the debate, recognising that the implementation of TR, at the very least, was insufficiently understood and planned, and that action to address increasing gaps in quality and actual provision is critical. Sonia Crozier spoke of the importance of bridging NPS and CRCs and of her commitment to prioritising quality in NPS. It was clear from this event that more open, robust discussions are needed about the future of probation, the sustainability of the present arrangements and the role of probation in relieving the prisons crisis. Some bold local initiatives within CRCs and the voluntary sector also need to be encouraged, made more visible and shared.

8. The Sir Graham Smith Awards applications close on 31st December, and would be a great way to learn more about local initiatives, apply here

9. And finally we are commencing a review of the Probation Institute Code of Ethics and we will soon be inviting comments on this important topic.

We hope you enjoy the lead up to the holidays and please let us know - is this information helpful to you?

Kind regards

Helen Schofield
Acting Chief Executive
Probation Institute



  2. Probation Officer4 December 2016 at 08:35

    Oh not that Probation Institute again. Is the PI / Prof Senior telling us that they had the chance to make recommendations to correct TR and instead focused solely on implementing itself as a regulatory body? Recommendations should have been headed by 1. reuniting the Probation Service, 2. the end of private probation contracts, and 3. a minimum standard for Probation Officer qualification and practice such as the Diploma in Social Work (DipSW) and Diploma in Probation Studies (DipPS). It's self-serving approach isn't surprising since it endorses electronic monitoring, is implementing an 'apprenticeship' bankrolled by the privateers and it glorifies 'TR shoehorns' John Wiseman, Heather Munro and Tessa Webb as 'Fellows'. I think 'revenue stream' is the modern term for 'thirty pieces of silver' and it will never be a centre for excellence for probation in real terms.

  3. Interesting twitter discussion - shows how detached from probation reality the PI really is!!;

    @ProbInstitute: - In Nov the PI attended a seminar on TR with the Justice Cmtte. We pushed for an enquiry. We submitted an A4 summary

    @joekuipers: - Future directions? Making a case for PI is self centred and misdirected. Probation reunification necessary first step which you sidestep.

    @ProbInstitute: - Reunification is a long shot Joe and in the meantime what happens to service users and practitioners?

    @joekuipers: - Agreed, but you might have flagged up that it would be the best outcome before addressing staff training and regulation?

    @IanGould5: - Whilst I accept PI will have altogether views and it maybe it is a very long shot indeed but it is because

    @IanGould5: - of Service Users, Victims, Communities and OUR Staff that we sustain challenge/raise profile Do what-ever we can

    @IanGould5: - to sustain focus/light on the impact and decimation of a Good and Effective Public Service

    1. Well said Joe Kuipers and Ian Gould. Usual slithering excuses from the PI.

    2. Ian gould is Jim.

    3. Their styles are too different. Saying that, every probation officer is Jim!

    4. Ian G is an ex spo retired from midlands area I am told.

  4. Lacklustre and depressing! There is a sense that they will only acknowledge minor failings in TR and that all will be well once the 'experts'( the ones that went along with it ) meet up in the old boys and girls club to 'fix it '. If there is anything such as a regulatory body it should be truly independant and not staffed by managers who have a vested interest in maintaining the sham of TR.

  5. Does anyone know how many SFO's have occured over the past year under TR and compared it to an average year pre TR? Surely we could get this information under freedom of information act? I have heard of an increase in SFO's in south west but that is anecdotal.

  6. Absolutely. Another layer of bureaucratic nonsense, more siphoning of taxpayers money, a sure way to cover up and smooth over the growing cracks. If everyone took a moment to take their heads out of their own backsides they might have the guts to own up this was a shit idea, it doesn't make sense that a public service can be delivered by those whose main goal is to pocket as much as possible. The people struggling to deliver the service are losing their professional discretion and being instructed to achieve the impossible while the courts are being used to water down sentences if they become a tad too tricky to implement.

  7. Why is the Probation Institute contributing to the Lammy review when it hasn't a single black or minority ethnic person in its leadership or fellows line-up?

  8. The PI appear to be able to get themselves invited to various functions and thinktanks in order to promote an agenda.
    However, they represent nobody other than themselves and cannot speak with authority for practitioners.
    Nobody I know is a member or wants to enrol but the old guard seem to want to carve out a role for themselves as they applaud the carve up of the probation service.

    1. The old guard have their own interests to consider - how many have their own private businesses/concerns which stand to benefit financially from outsourcing various functions?

  9. Presumably the PI needs to review its code of ethics to include something about a licence to practice, as otherwise there is no credible professional standard – as you cannot trust market forces to create their own kitemarks or self-regulation. Left to its own devices the market would prefer a gig economy in probation.

    As the PI regards regulation of the marketplace essential to the public good, then it has to root this objective in its ethics. Regulation has to be independent to be meaningful and if achieved it could be the slow way back to reunification/reintegration.

    Perhaps the PI should think about framing its ethics as if TR did not exist, as otherwise it runs the risk of fitting values around TR. The whole purpose of ethics is that they underpin actions and arrangements; they are not there to adorn or sugar-coat bitter pills. So, if the PI truly believes in not just a regulated, but also an integrated probation service, it should assert this value even in spite of a TR doctrine that has split service delivery



    1. And a case for corporate manslaughter is surely enhanced when the MOJ sanction practices that they know can cause death.


    2. I was really shocked to see the depictions of the head restraints used. I was trained in positive behaviour management when i worked at a school for profoundly autistic children. This type of restraint would be illegal there and we were trained to understand about positional aspyxiation. Any forward restraint banned. Generally we were learning how to deflect headbutts, bites and hairpulling from the children and the strongest message was if possible walk away and move others to safety. Other methods were padded bolsters to prevent children running at you and pads to hold behind head if they were self harming. Most of these situations can be managed with proper training and support. Restraint is a last resort when all else has failed,and even then should be limited to moving someone to safety. Any pressure on head, pulling someone forward risks positional aspyxiation and the damage can be done before anyone realises, then it too late. This technique needs to be banned immediately.