Saturday, 27 January 2018

Failing CRCs Rewarded Despite PbR

Some readers will have noticed the other day that the MoJ published Community Performance Quarterly MI, update to September 2017. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea what they show, so I'm extremely grateful for the following headline explanation from the Civil Service World website:-

Figures show MoJ rehabilitation providers miss payment-by-results targets

Fewer than 10% of Community Rehabilitation Companies qualify for offender-reduction rewards. Just two of the 21 offender-rehabilitation services delivering the Ministry of Justice's new payment-by-results model have met their targets for the system's first year, new figures have revealed. Data published by the MoJ shows that of the full cohort of Community Rehabilitation Companies aiming to drive down reoffending rates among low and medium-risk offenders, only Merseyside CRC and Northumbria CRC managed to deliver numbers that entitled them to payments under the system.

The MoJ’s payment-by-results methodology requires CRCs to reduce not only the “binary” proportion of offenders being managed in the community who reoffend within a specified period after sentence, but also the “frequency rate”, which measures the number of crimes committed by those who go on to reoffend. In both cases reoffending is measured against baseline of figures from 2011.

Statistics published yesterday represent the final reoffending rates for 2015-16. They show that while 18 CRC areas managed to deliver a “binary” reduction, only Merseyside and Northumbria also managed to cut frequency rates for offenders who went on to commit more crime. In 2011, Northumbria had the highest adjusted reoffending rate of any of the 21 CRCs – with 55.17% of convicted offenders going on to reoffend. It also had the highest frequency rate – an average of 5.15 offences for each individual who went on to reoffend, also the highest rate of any CRC.

Last month, a National Audit Office report highlighted the extent to which the MoJ had retooled its CRC contracts, making a further £342m available to them over the years to 2022 in order to offset projected losses. Public Accounts Committee chair Meg Hillier said the NAO report, which detailed higher-than-expected costs set against a reduction in the number of referrals being offered to CRCs, was evidence of the extent to which the MoJ had “set these services up to fail”.

Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the latest figures were an indication that the government had sought to introduce payment-by-results models as a way to save money, rather than to drive improved outcomes. He added that a reduction in face-to-face meetings with monitored offenders was one consequence of the pressure services were under, and was one factor reflected in the reoffending-frequency statistics. “The payment-by-results rhetoric was a useful banner,” he said. “But what this was really about was taking money out of the system.”

Neilson said that what was happening with CRCs was “very far away” from the kind of reoffending work done at HMP Peterborough with a groundbreaking Social Impact Bond that launched in 2010 under then-justice secretary Ken Clarke. “These reforms were forced through at break-neck pace by a secretary of state hell-bent with getting them across the finish line by the 2015 General Election,” he said, referring to Clarke’s successor, Chris Grayling. “Successive secretaries of state have been with left with this mess.”

Neilson added that although the latest figures indicated that just two CRCs would be receiving payment-by-results awards, last year’s financial retooling of the system had effectively awarded all of the bodies their success payments.

An MoJ spokeswoman said the department's probation reforms meant 40,000 offenders were being monitored who would previously have been released with no supervision. "Overall, Community Rehabilitation Companies have reduced the number of people re-offending, but they need to do more to ensure we have a service that keeps the public safe and helps offenders turn their back on crime,” she said. "Probation officers are doing an incredibly professional job and we will continue to work closely with CRCs to improve performance."


A reminder from last December, also from the Civil Service World website:-

The Ministry of Justice has been criticised for “massively underestimating” the costs incurred by the new providers of probation services for low- to medium-risk offenders at the time it tendered contracts in 2014. The department revised its contracts with Community Rehabilitation Companies in August this year after the providers projected losses of £443m between 2016 and 2022 due to higher-than-expected costs and a reduction in the number of offenders being referred to them.

In a report published today, the National Audit Office said projected maximum fees by the ministry to CRCs had now increased by £342m over the life of the contracts. This includes payments of £42m in 2016-17 and £22m in 2017-18 that were made in excess of the fees paid under the terms of the original contracts. MPs on the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee said the government had “set these services up to fail” and that hundreds of millions of pounds were now being directed at CRCs without evidence that they will succeed in reducing reoffending.


The first performance payments to CRCs informed by reoffending data are due in January 2018. A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “As we said in July, probation services are falling short of our vision for a high-quality system that reforms offenders and commands the confidence of courts. That is why we have changed CRC contracts to address the challenges CRCs are facing as a result of their financial situation, due to the reduction in the volumes of offenders referred to them. We are clear that CRCs must deliver a higher standard of probation services, which strictly enforces sentences, reduces reoffending and protects the public."


  1. When CSW are not on your side...

  2. I couldn't understand the data either, and I'm a bit puzzled and sceptical about how it's produced and it's reliability anyway.
    In the region where I live the use of fixed penalty fines has risen massively for things like theft and antisocial behaviour, trademark offences committed by those who would usually attract short sentences, and subsequently be supervised by CRCs.
    Therefore is any fall in reoffending of the cohorts CRCs supervise a result of their intervention or a result of broader local policies such fixed penalties or cautions etc.
    I don't know how you can separate the impact of broader local policies and CRC success rates if it's not all considered in the round?
    There is another issue with PbR for me. Any monies given for results will be paid in shareholders dividends and not be used to improve services. PbR models used by private companies cost, but will never improve services.


  3. Cuts in police numbers, only pursuing investigations that stand a chance of a conviction. Many CRC offenders have been interviewed then no further action as the evidence is weak. Add in the non disclosure mess and you have a natural reduction in the offending rate..... I’m from Merseyside and we’re not doing anything special......if police numbers rise so will the conviction rates.

  4. all this extra cash swimming around, just imagine how far Trusts could have taken their award winning performances had they had access to all that cash.

    1. On the subject of cash....

    2. Tory ministers have been attacked for refusing to publish a report on doomed Carillion’s performance - because it’s “commercially sensitive”.

      The Ministry of Justice has confirmed it commissioned an independent review into prison maintenance, millions of pounds of which was outsourced to the stricken giant, early last year.

      The review was carried out after prisons minister Sam Gyimah said he was "not impressed" by Carillion's maintenance work in September 2016 and the firm was sent a formal warning.

      Despite the row, the firm went on to win another £40million in Ministry of Justice contracts last year - before collapsing leaving 20,000 jobs in the balance.

      Yet ministers say the report - together with other reports on Carillion's effectiveness including an "improvement plan" - will not be handed to the independent House of Commons Library.

      Justice minister Rory Stewart wrote: "There are no plans to place the information in the library as the report contains commercially sensitive information.”

      Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon said: "It’s outrageous that the government is now refusing to publish this or any other reports that the Ministry of Justice has done into Carillion's performance in our prisons.

      "What has it got to hide? All too often with deals signed with private companies in our justice system, there is a lack of transparency and openness. This makes it incredibly difficult to hold the private sector to account and to ensure that companies are working in the public interest and not their own."

      A string of parliamentary questions by Mr Burgon revealed the Ministry of Justice spent £11.4million over three years on its 97-strong team of officials whose job it was to monitor contracts.

      But ministers admitted an "underestimation of the historical costs" meant some contracts did not achieve the savings they promised.

      Mr Stewart said the independent report in early 2017 was "used to support several improvement initiatives."

      He added the department had meetings with Carillion at various levels "at least weekly" to discuss "specific issues". He was unable to name the total number of meetings.

      The minister told Mr Burgon: "A formal letter of concern was issued in 2016 to advise Carillion of performance failures. A performance action plan was put in place to address these failings and some improvements were made."

      It came as the government tonight said it has saved 1,000 Carillion prisons jobs by setting up its own facilities management firm.

      The staff in 52 jails who were previously employed by the giant will move to the new company, Gov Facility Services Limited, with their terms and conditions preserved. Their work includes cleaning, maintenance and building repair.

      Justice Secretary David Gauke said: "I want to reassure staff that their jobs are secure and essential to making prisons safer and more decent."

  5. They all swim together in the same pool of shit. Rory Stewart was, once upon a time, a rare independent & balanced voice when he was an official in Afghanistan. Now he has - sadly - turned into a partisan lickspittle game-player. Its astonishing what havoc financial security & personal ambition can wreak upon one's moral compass.

    A plague (herpes & syphyllis?) upon their houses.

  6. Commercially sensitive my arse. They are just embarrassed. A government that hates government, destroying itself and public services. Public services are inefficient and expensive they argue, and then spend hundreds of millions more baling out the businesses who "provide" inferior services. The cognitive dissonance must require a lot of alcohol to damp it down enough to pronounce "commercially sensitive" whenever anyone asks for evidence of the success of their projects. Gah!

  7. Gives the funds directly to the CRC’s. Take entities like Sodexo and Interserve out of the equation. Re-offending rates would improve as local areas could adjust practices to what works for them. The whole set up is a dysfunctional mess at the minute and not fit for purpose. To think splitting a service in two would improve public protection is beyond belief!!

    1. Isn't that renationalisation?