Friday, 13 October 2017

News From Nottingham

On the very eve of the Napo AGM in Nottingham and ahead of an expected appearance by the chair of the House of Commons Justice Committee, I see that somewhat late in the day they are holding an inquiry into the TR omnishambles. It's probably too late, but I suppose better late than never:-
Transforming Rehabilitation inquiry launched
The Justice Committee launches an inquiry into the Government's Transforming Rehabilitation Programme. The inquiry will focus on how current Government measures are effectively addressing the challenges facing the probation services and what more needs to be done in the short-term to improve the probation system.

Terms of reference
The Committee welcomes written evidence on the following topics:

Government measures
1. To what extent do the steps taken by the Government address the issues facing probation services?

(a) What contractual, financial and administrative changes did the Government introduce for CRCs in July 2017 as a result of their internal review of Transforming Rehabilitation? What has been the effect of these changes on the delivery of probation services?

(b) Are strengthening inspection standards and creating joint performance measures (between probation services and prisons) the best ways of improving performance?

(c) What should be the Government’s priorities to improve work between departments on the delivery of services needed for effective rehabilitation?

2. What impact have the reforms had on: i) sentencing behaviour, ii) recalls to prison, and iii) serious further offences?

3. How effective have Government measures been in addressing issues arising from the division of responsibility between the NPS and CRCs in the delivery of probation services?

4. What else should the Government do to address the issues facing probation services?

Short-term changes
5. How can the Through-the-Gate provision be improved so that prisoners get the right help before their release from prison and afterwards?

6. What can be done to increase voluntary sector involvement in the delivery of probation services?

The future of probation services
7. When should there be a review of the future of the Transforming Rehabilitation model and the long-term plan for delivering probation services?

Submitting written evidence
The deadline for written submissions to be made is Friday 17 November 2017. Written submissions should be made via the web portal. Submissions need not address every aspect of the terms of reference and should be no longer than 3,000 words. The Committee values diversity and seeks to ensure this where possible. We encourage members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence.

In 2014, the Ministry of Justice divided the probation system—responsible for supervising, rehabilitating and (where necessary) resettling offenders, after or instead of a custodial sentence—into two parts:

  • the National Probation Service (NPS)—handle high risk offenders (the NPS is a public body); and
  • Community Rehabilitation Centres (CRCs)—of which there are 21 across England and Wales—handle low and medium risk offenders and services are delivered by private or third sector organisations (eight private organisations run the 21 CRCs).
The Government also introduced a provision in the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 which required that rehabilitation activity be provided to short-sentenced offenders (i.e. those receiving a custodial sentences of 12 months or less).

In 2015, Through-the-Gate was introduced and CRCs were given responsibility to support offenders in the 12 weeks before their release from prison and in the period after their release. Collectively these reforms are known as ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’.


I notice almost the first item in the local news is a graphic reminder of the prison crisis:-  

Four deaths in the last four weeks at HMP Nottingham

Four people have died while in custody in HMP Nottingham in as many weeks. It comes after the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) said the prison has a problem with drugs and violence. A spokesman for the prison service said every death was a tragedy, and that investigations are now under way to ascertain the details. 

They did not disclose any details about inmates who have died, and further details surrounding the death of the most recently deceased inmate have not been released. However, the Post reported last month that Shane Stroughton, 29, died in custody on Wednesday, September 13.

HMP is a male category B prison, which takes prisoners from Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire courts, and has a capacity of 1,060 prisoners. A Prison Service spokesman said: “Every death in custody is a tragedy and we are redoubling our efforts to make prisons safe.

“We are putting more funding into prison safety and have launched a suicide and self-harm reduction project to address the increase in self-inflicted deaths and self-harm in our prisons. HMP Nottingham has also put in place a number of measures to increase staffing levels, which have improved over the year. As with all deaths in custody, independent investigations by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman are ongoing, and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

In July, the IMB report said the prison's violence problem had been made worse by a staff shortage. The report, which covered 12 months up to February, said five men had died, two as a result of self-harm. Drugs are also an issue and a source of bullying, debt, and health problems, investigators found.


Finally, there are signs that MTCNovo are getting rattled as to what Monday's BBC Panorama programme will reveal:-

Message from Helga Swidenbank - Interim Director MTCnovo

BBC Panorama has approached us about a programme they are planning to air on Monday 16th October on work of probation providers. The programme will look at the impact Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) has had on probation services across the UK and will reference both London CRC and London National Probation Service, as well other providers. 

The programme makers have put a number of allegations to us about London CRC's work which we have responded to. We have been working with them to present a more accurate account of the work that London CRC is doing to improve its probation services in London.

I will update you once the programme has aired and respond to any specific allegations that are actually broadcast. 

In the meantime, please remember that if you are approached by the media, you must not answer their queries or give them information about any of MTCnovo's organisations, employees or service users without first speaking to the MTCnovo Communications Team. Simply take their details and call the Communications Team on 0207 708 8101.

Thank you for your hard work and continued commitment to helping us reach our collective goal of reducing reoffending and improving lives.     


  1. Ah, Helga, no more useless employee of the justice system than Ms Swidenbank. Useless as governor of Bronzefield and now presiding over the disaster that is London CRC. Why does she keep being given employment given she is so clearly unsuited to working in the justice system?

    1. Is she easy to manipulate?

  2. There has been loads of coverage on this morning's R4 Today programme. Suddenly people seem to care. CRCs in line for lots of criticism. Michael Spurr himself on later.
    NAPO leadership noticeable by their absence! Where are these so called leaders? What have they done to challenge this Omni shambles?

    1. Where is the media and parliamentary officer?

  3. Finally TR is being looked at against original political aspirations with HMPPS delivery under scrutiny.