Monday, 26 March 2018

Probation in London

Judging by today's announcement, it looks like probation delivery in London is in line for another major shake-up:- 

Justice Update:Written statement
I have today signed a Justice Devolution Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with London Councils and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC).

This agreement will fundamentally change the way the criminal justice and offender management systems interact with local partners in London. We are moving towards a model where greater local influence is seen in a number of key delivery areas, including victims and witness services, future probation services, innovative use of electronic monitoring technologies, and specialist services for young offenders and women in the criminal justice system. We have also committed to explore jointly more ambitious options, such as budget devolution for certain groups of offenders in custody.

This is a crucial area of focus for the government. Spending on criminal justice in London is significant, estimated at £3.3bn per annum across at least 14 different organisations at a national, regional and local level. Reoffending costs £2.2bn in criminal justice costs alone. London accounts for almost 20% of offenders and reoffenders, at 76,000 and 19,000 respectively, and has a prison population accounting for a similar proportion but which is spread across 40 institutions nationally. Crime and the impact of crime is not felt equally across London, with the most vulnerable wards having three times as many victims of burglary, robbery and sexual offences as the least vulnerable wards.

In summary, the MoU covers the following areas:

Victims and witnesses
Work will aim to improve the experience for victims and witnesses from the point a crime is reported to the criminal conviction and beyond. Our ambition is to establish a more integrated service for victims and witnesses in London where victim support would be provided by a single person rather than several agencies. To help ensure a more seamless service for victims and witnesses before trial, we will devolve commissioning of support for witnesses at the pre-trial stage to MOPAC by April 2019.

We will also use the findings from the MOPAC-commissioned review of compliance with the Victims' Code of Practice and the provision of victim services in London to improve accountability and to inform local, regional and national policy and commissioning.

Reducing reoffending
This section of the MoU commits my department to working with local partners to ensure that the right interventions are in place to reduce reoffending in the capital. This will include delivery of a joint review of probation services in London, and testing the co-commissioning of ‘Through the Gate’ services.

Further to this, the MoJ, MOPAC and London Councils will undertake a joint programme of work around robust community sentence options, including considering opportunities to co-commission and better integrate services for the most complex, violent and persistent offenders, and developing a London strategy to make the most effective use of electronic monitoring.

A new approach to managing vulnerable cohorts
More women are sentenced to short custodial sentences in London than in the rest of the country, and the overall London youth reoffending rate of 47.5% remains stubbornly higher than the rate for England and Wales, which is currently 42.6%. This section sets out how we will work in partnership to address the complex needs of these vulnerable cohorts.

The MoU sets out a specific commitment to work collaboratively to align priorities and budgets on female offenders within London, exploring the scope for co-designing credible alternatives to custody. On young offenders, the MoJ will facilitate joint analysis with an aim of improving outcomes, with particular focus on addressing BAME disproportionality across the system. MoJ, MOPAC and London boroughs will pursue joint work programmes in relation to resettlement provision, transition to the adult estate, and the opportunities to co-commission a Secure School for London.

Financial devolution
Finally, we are seeking, in the longer term, to foster a whole-system approach to offender management where powers, resources and decisions are better aligned and early intervention and prevention is incentivised. The MoU sets out our intention to work with MOPAC and London Councils to explore ways in which financial models can incentivise greater investment in preventative services which reduce demand on the CJS, particularly considering opportunities with specific cohorts, including female offenders and 18-25-year-old offenders.

This summary covers the main commitments of the MoU. Work will begin now to ensure we jointly deliver these commitments as quickly as possible.

David Gauke MP (Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice)


Mayor of London's press release:-

New agreement to join up London’s justice services
A new agreement to reduce reoffending and provide a more integrated approach to victims of crime in London was announced today by the Justice Secretary and the Mayor of London. They will work alongside local councils towards justice devolution and explore how to better join up local criminal justice services in the capital.

Together they will initiate a programme to tackle major challenges facing London’s criminal justice service, and ultimately devolve powers, and more authority and accountability for criminal justice from the Government to the capital.

Spending on criminal justice in London totals £3.3bn every year and is currently split across 14 different organisations at a national, regional and local level. With so many different bodies allocating funding at different levels, there are inevitably inconsistencies and duplication of work.

The Mayor of London, Justice Secretary and the capital’s Boroughs want to ensure London has the powers and funding to be able to join up and improve those services, so the capital’s justice system can:

  • Tackle high rates of reoffending and ensure probation services are meeting the needs of London.
  • Develop targeted policies to help reduce reoffending by young adults.
  • Bring together elements of the support provided to witnesses before a trial with victim support services commissioned in London, to ensure victims are not passed unnecessarily between services.
To address those and other challenges, four key priority areas have been identified where a more joined up approach would strengthen the Criminal Justice Service for Londoners. They are:
  • Reducing reoffending – at the moment 24 per cent of all offenders reoffend within one year of ending their sentence and reoffending costs London’s criminal justice system approximately £2.2bn a year. Probation services need to do more to protect Londoners from harm and ensure offenders are properly rehabilitated. This work will see a much greater role for the Mayor in delivering future probation services that meet the needs of London, and ensure that more is done to deter and rehabilitate offenders to break the cycle of crime. Work will also include exploring how prisons can be made safer whilst providing an environment that is more conducive to rehabilitation alongside services that resettle offenders on release.
  • Victims and witnesses – work will aim to improve the experience for victims and witnesses from the point a crime is reported to the criminal conviction and beyond. Our ambition is to establish more integrated service for victims and witnesses where victim support would be provided by a single person rather than several agencies.
  • A new approach to managing vulnerable cohorts in the criminal justice system – more women are sentenced to short custodial sentences in London than in the rest of the country, and the overall London youth reoffending rate of 47.5 per cent remains higher than the rate for England and Wales, which is 42.6 per cent. Work will explore how to reduce the number of women in custody, while also focusing on improving access to support services for women in prisons and ensuring there is sufficient investment in female offender services in the community. The programme will also look to reduce the number of young Londoners who are locked up away from their families and communities and investigate the commissioning of a new secure institution for London’s young offenders.
  • Financial devolution – ways will be explored of providing the financial mechanisms and incentives that allow London to invest more in preventative services. Work will include exploring opportunities for the devolution of custody budgets for certain groups of offenders, to help reduce the demand on the criminal justice system.
A new board led by senior representatives of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, Ministry of Justice and London Councils will oversee work related to today’s agreement. The London Justice Devolution Board will ensure that the key objectives are being met.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: 

“By joining up local services I believe we can increase support for victims of crime and reduce the rate of reoffending in London, helping make our communities safer. This agreement will ensure that decisions about justice services in London prioritise the interests of Londoners, and it is an important step towards the devolution of powers over criminal justice in our city.”

Justice Secretary, David Gauke, said: 

“This is a significant step towards greater autonomy and accountability for London and a sign of this Government’s deep commitment to devolution.London faces unique challenges and opportunities – almost 20% of all offenders live in the capital and it spends more than £3billion delivering criminal justice. So it is right that we work in close partnership with London’s regional authorities to reduce crime, stop people reoffending and look after victims. I envisage this as the first step towards a model where London’s authorities play a much more active role in managing offenders – particularly those who require the most comprehensive support.”

Councillor Lib Peck, London Councils’ Executive member for crime and public protection, said: 

“Today’s agreement is an important step towards creating a more integrated criminal justice system for London. The MOU represents welcome progress towards devolving power locally, which will support London boroughs in our commitments to reduce crime and improve the safety of our communities. Close collaboration between central, regional, and local government is also essential for improving services, so we’re pleased to be working in partnership with the Ministry of Justice and the Mayor to ensure this happens.”


  1. Doesn’t sound positive for probation in London. Reading between the lines of this “whole-system approach to offender management”;

    Victims services will no longer be the responsibility of probation. Thanks to Worboys and Crozier!

    Offenders 18-25 will be supervised by the Youth Offending Service instead of probation.

    Privatisation of probation services will continue, incorporating both CRC and NPS.

    Serco, G4S & Co are set to receive a huge tagging contract. Ker-ching for Mr Mayors’ coffers.

    ... no word from Napo and Unison as usual

  2. The implications of which, meaning thereof will take some time to understand but sounds seismic on first quick read.

  3. Victim services no longer responsibility of probation.
    18-25 year olds supervised by youth offending services.
    Nacro £25m for accommodation.

    A lot of services being removed so how much will be taken back from probation to balance the books?


    1. 'It will review probation services, amid criticism of under-performing Community Rehabilitation Companies.' This blog will surely ask of privatised Probation, part of the problem or part of the solution? Police, Mental Health services, Drug Treatment services, Courts, Communities, Social Services, Health Services, Local Authorities etc all expected to work together so that privatised Probation can turn a profit? Get real! Payment by results, really? So let's imagine everyone in the group effort is tasked to deliver and turn a profit. It gets so blindingly stupid it is hard to imagine the set of chumps that dreamt up privatising Probation services. Aaaargh!

    2. Imagine turning up to a Social Services meeting and a stressed out Social Worker loses it and says, 'What are you f*****s doing exactly?' Is the reply, 'We are performing to the strictures of our contract, maximising value to the public and our shareholders.' FFS! It doesn't make any sense!!!

  5. Is there anywhere a coherent plan for Probation in England and Wales, or can any mayor/PCC/enthusiast rock up with a random proposal?

    1. It's the same model the good old USA operate, and it's just another way of outsourcing.
      Each devolved authority has total freedom to do what ever as long as they abide by a "broad" understanding of when "federal" intervention is required.
      As local councils are now becoming evermore responsible for finding ways to fund their services and they keep hiking council taxes to pay for things like social care, libraries and parks, it won't be long before (just like the good old USA model) offenders on probation will have to pay the private companies.


  6. A few points from a broader perspectve
    1. Victim services should never have been part of the probation service in the first place (this was a result of empire building in the 90's ) and believe it or not it is just not America where vicitm services are separate from Probation , Canada , New Zealand and most of the rest of the world are if you care to look.
    2. If you are 18 to 25 and in London you may be now about to get a better service given the funding for YOT. You may not but you are probably not going to get a worse service.
    3. Whilst it could be the start of charging it could also be the start of the demise of CRC they only remember have 4 years to run and a whole bunch of clients will now go plus If you are a PPO in a CRC there may now be an escape to YOT teams