Friday, 13 January 2017

Inspector Finds Problems with RRP

Here we have the latest inspection report from the Probation Inspectorate:- 


This is our second inspection of adult probation work undertaken in the Midlands division of the National Probation Service (NPS) and in a Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) owned by the Reducing Reoffending Partnership (RRP). 

RRP is applying the same ambitious operating model in the two CRCs it owns, and it is reassuring to see the progress made since our inspection in Derbyshire just a few months ago. Implementation in Staffordshire and Stoke is almost complete - albeit case management software and systems are still pending - and the operating model is now almost fully fledged. 

RRP’s model provides for an extensive range of interventions and it was pleasing to see some in good use, for example, substance misuse services. We were impressed as well by RRP’s commitment to specific services for women, and commend its strategy to others. 

That said, the CRC is not yet delivering the full range of planned services. Delivery has been inconsistent during a period of rapid change, but there is the prospect of steadier times ahead. Individual caseloads, however, look set to stay high with some officers now responsible for up to 80 cases. 

High individual caseloads are becoming commonplace in CRCs. Of course CRCs must manage within anticipated resource, but the public is at greater risk when officers are spread too thinly and if quality assurance is not robust. 

In common with other regions, the Midlands division of the NPS has so far experienced less (and less complex) change. It was not surprising then that the organisation was more stable and effective. This is generally consistent with what we have found elsewhere. 

Overall, the NPS work inspected was of sufficient quality but there were notable weaknesses in places, for example in the provision of rehabilitative services. There was little evidence of the NPS purchasing services from the CRC to assist here, whereas CRC provision of services to the NPS is a key tenet of the model for probation services nationally. In practice and despite leaders’ intentions, the rate card (listing services available) and/or concerns over pricing remain sticking points, here and elsewhere in the country. 

Both the CRC and NPS in Staffordshire and Stoke need to improve the quality and impact of their work. We hope that the findings and recommendations from this inspection will help them to do just that.

HM Chief Inspector of Probation January 2017


Russell Webster has summarised the report here and the following is is a taster. 

The main inspectors’ findings of the work of the CRC were:
  • Assessments of risk of harm were done consistently and to an acceptable standard, thereby providing a good grounding for future work, but those assessments were not followed through sufficiently well.
  • In almost half of the cases insufficient steps had been taken to keep to a minimum the service user’s risk of harm to others. Moreover, in a high proportion of cases, sentence planning was poor.
  • There was no evidence of the CRC seeking to quality assure public protection work. Management oversight was limited.
  • The CRC was not sufficiently effective in delivering interventions to reduce reoffending.
  • In most cases, the CRC produced an assessment and plan sufficient for the purposes of reducing reoffending. There was evidence of some effective work but this was offset by adverse consequences of organisational change, particularly disruption to the continuity of supervision due to frequent changes of responsible officer.
  • Members of staff were confused about their roles, and the availability of appropriate interventions.
  • The use of ‘step down’, where contact is reduced or managed by telephone calls, was not compatible with the risks associated with cases, nor did it support rehabilitative work.
  • Most CRC service users had abided by the conditions of their sentence. If they did not, appropriate enforcement action was taken.
  • Individual diversity was taken into account in the assessment, planning and delivery arrangements in almost all cases.
  • The high turnover of responsible officers was less of a problem in this area of work, but in almost one in four cases the lack of continuity led to unacceptable levels of contact and poor enforcement work.


  1. If once Gold Standard what base metal do these series of inspections translate to. Any old iron... any old iron! If I know my former colleagues they are working like stink, well done to them for keeping the show on the road, it is because of them and no other reason to my mind that TR has come this far. Respect.

  2. I work in the area and the poor change management, leadership and we have caseloads which continue to increase. What's worse is that the derby inspection warned RRP of the same issues and management carried on regardless! SFO s are at a high level, staff are stressed! They made 10+ POs redundant and have got rid of all our local admin! RRP should be held to account and to say management breathed a sigh of relief when this was published would be an understatement! It could have been and should have been so much worse! Staff continue to do the importanr work but can't manage with caseloads of now 90+!!!!

  3. What happened to all the comments from a couple days back?

    1. A very good question and I can only assume it was an error on my part when trying to delete spam - I suspect I didn't notice that a whole raft of comments got highlighted by mistake and hence were consigned to oblivion when I pressed delete. Very annoying indeed...

  4. They disappeared into the electronic ether like that nDelius entry I did last week.

  5. Vitnary Grayling has gelded Jim!

  6. NPS has a plethora of 'Manager Fear' at the moment caused in the main by basic level staff who struggle to do the job and then decide to push for promotion...they get and become wracked by fear about making a decision so naturally use the fall back position of keeping everyone at High risk along comes E3 directive from even higher management now they cant wait to downgrade cases as though their life depends on it...this fear that exists in the current middle manager strata has emerged in the last 10 years-yes we have always had incompetant managers and staff but they knew it and would work with you-this current lot have come to believe that once an SPO they can interpret policy as they believe it should be not as it is...E3 is a destabalising force driving a coach and horses through carefully crafted relationships over a number of years and all for driving down costs and doing things on the cheap...this is innovation from NOMS having looked at what the CRCs are curretly getting away with and thinking we'll have some of that....the only way forward is to scrap the contracts unify the service and develop local initiatives reflecting local need...E3 my arse

  7. There needs to be a reduction of middle management. Most don't really do much work and take credit for work done by PO's. A lot of money would be saved. Are there any plans to reduce middle management numbers?

    The honest PO