It looks like the penny has dropped with the new Justice Secretary and he's noticed some 'unforeseen challenges' with those pesky reforms of Chris Grayling's. We know the CRCs have been rewarded for their failure, but no direct mention of the 'Probation Review' here in this bit of ministerial puff on the MoJ website and sneaked out just before the Parliamentary summer recess:-
Justice Secretary David Lidington provides an update on the probation system.
Successful offender reform depends on so many people. Among the most vital are probation staff, who seek to improve the lives of those they work with and, by extension, society as a whole. They are key to disrupting the cycle of reoffending.
At present, half of all crime is committed by those who have broken the law before, often more than once: there is no doubt that society is owed a probation service in which judges and magistrates have confidence and which consistently and effectively enforces sentences handed down in our courts.
Since becoming Justice Secretary I have been privileged to see probation in action, helping bridge the gulf between life in prison and life on release. Each day the service must assess the risk that an offender poses to their family and the public and decide about how best to support their fresh start. As importantly, probation staff support victims of violent and sexual crime.
While there is no such thing as a typical offender, all of them must overcome similar hurdles if they are to build a better future. A job, a home, decent mental health, and a determination not to abuse alcohol or drugs: these are the common goals. In pursuit of this, probation services are assisted by an invaluable band of charities and volunteers as well as staff from local authorities, police and the NHS among others.
They have all worked hard through the recent period of fundamental change in probation, driven by significant government reforms to this very complex public service. Over the past year my department has been reviewing the progress of these reforms, and I will myself take a close and careful look at overall performance in the coming months.
The structural reforms saw the caseload divided between the National Probation Service (NPS) – which took on higher-risk offenders - and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs,) set up to supervise those judged to be low and medium-risk. Here, the system has encountered unforeseen challenges. Demand has been stronger for the NPS caseload and this has created different financial and operational pressures for both CRCs and the NPS.
We are putting in place balancing policies aimed at addressing these challenges. To date, we have adjusted the CRCs’ contracts to reflect more accurately the cost of providing critical frontline services: given this, we are calling on them to provide better support as they help offenders build more positive lives.
It is also clear that ‘through-the-gate’ arrangements – which support prisoners as they leave jail and re-join society - are falling short of our vision for a high-quality service that both reforms offenders and commands the confidence of courts. In this, I recognise the problems identified by the Probation Inspectorate and am looking at how to address them most effectively in the context of the wider probation picture.
With mental health and treatment services in such high demand among offenders, it’s also my priority to improve their access to and engagement with them. We are developing a joint protocol with the Department of Health and other bodies to bring the work of probation, health and treatment services closer together. And since transparency is key to effective public service reform, probation providers will come under keener scrutiny. Taxpayers should know how money is spent on their behalf to improve lives. To that end, we are giving more funds to the Inspectorate to carry out annual performance reviews and publish individual ratings.
In coming weeks, our conversations with staff, judges, magistrates and other key partners and stakeholders will continue. Reform is as much evolution as revolution and we will never stop seeking to improve the public services on which we depend.
I remain firmly committed to cutting reoffending with the support of an effective and stable probation service.
The wider vision for offender rehabilitation is the same: to push ahead with prison reform, harness our probation skills to achieve the best possible outcomes for offenders – and create a safer society for all.
Some reaction on Facebook:-
The Tories have a fantastic style of writing, the beginning of his bull crap was agreeable but more money for CRC's = profits for the privateers. In this world words are cheap and the only action I see from his sentiment are more tax funded blank cheques for corporations. I'm not impressed one bit. x
The warped logic of this is mindboggling. Higher demand on NPS, smaller than expected demand for CRC, so give CRCs more money. They can't disappoint their corporate chums and they will never ever admit that TR was one massive utter pile of shit. Bastards
You succinctly hit the nail on the head.
"Here, the system has encountered unforeseen challenges". Lol. Just lol
"I remain firmly committed to cutting reoffending with the support of an effective and stable probation service". You mean the service your own Party splintered, shattered and rendered unstable don't you Minister????
It's utterly gobsmacking, isn't it?
Dean Rogers - Remarkable on many levels but no Minister seems capable of taking responsibility these days. On the plus side, they're not seeming to blame anyone else this time. And interestingly, there are no solutions being offered so it could really be game on. For certain, as the inspectors recognise, there can be no improvements without deeper, more honest and open conversation with probation staff at all levels...never been a more important time to be in Napo or for Napo to be able to lead the engagement across all grades.
Really really cowardly of him to push this out just at the start of recess. Justice Select Committee needs serious lobbying. I see Bob Neill is chair again, so at least he has heard some of the story already. They have done a lot of hand wringing, and need to up their game, imho
Dean Rogers - Napo briefed Neill and his Committee before the election and will be aiming to follow this up asap. Things feel like they're moving fast, which is positive, and we're currently working on numerous briefings and responses. We will need a lot of member input and to overcome barriers in the MoJ still defending their past over the coming months. There are also big risks in the hugely unstable operating environment - but we must be positive as the momentum is now shifting.
Your remarks at the recent branch AGM in Leeds were really encouraging Dean...hope we find an effective way forwards through this mess...
Do you want examples of how bad things get ... I have had a few shockers recently all down to the business of escalation and handover across the divide
oh lordie, and recruitment and shared services! Appalling