Monday, 30 April 2018

If PCCs Were in Control

I notice that the PCCs have submitted a bit more evidence to Bob Neill's Select Committee on why things would be better if they were in the driving seat:-

Supplementary written evidence from Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (TRH0109)

Thank you for your recent letter following my participation at the Justice Select Committee on 27th February. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to you.

I am always delighted to be called to give evidence to the committee and remain committed to seeing how PCCs can play a greater role in overseeing the criminal justice system and taking forward justice devolution.

Oversight and Accountability

In your letter you posed the question “If Police and Crime Commissioners took on only one of the following roles:- oversight and accountability, a decision-making role in financing services or a role in inspections - which would I prioritise, and how could these distinct responsibilities be balanced?” 

My response is that as Chair of the Criminal Justice Board in Hertfordshire, I am the only person around the table with no operational role. Giving a greater role to the oversight and accountability of the criminal justice system would help to bring the disparate parts of the system together around a shared plan, allowing for the focus and targeting of resources more effectively and the achievement of shared outcomes. Currently agencies work in silos, working to their own organisation’s plans with often conflicting priorities and an absence of shared outcomes, leading to a narrow focus on a particular part of the system. Broadening PCCs’ role to have greater oversight and accountability across the end-to-end system and particularly around commissioning offender services, would lead to better outcomes for victims, witnesses and offenders.

Currently the public is largely absent from discussions in relation to the criminal justice system. There is a need to hear their views and use their experiences to help shape and improve the system. In many areas, like Hertfordshire, PCCs are chairing their local Criminal Justice Boards, which has helped to improve the visibility and accountability of criminal justice agencies at a local level, but this needs to be formalised across all areas of the justice system. Extending the role of PCCs could assist with this.

It is also clear that a whole-system approach is required around offender management, including resettlement services. Given PCCs’ success with the commissioning of appropriate victims’ services in a locality, there is an opportunity to extend their role to include decision-making in financing services for short-sentences, young, and women offenders. By doing so, it will help to: bring about better end-to-end service delivery for offenders; create incentives for local areas to invest in preventative services and alternatives to custody; facilitate closer partnership working between agencies; and provide greater scope for innovative ways of reducing reoffending – something which is currently missing.

As local criminal justice leaders, PCCs are well placed to support the inspection process and often have sight of where things are going wrong in the system long before a formal inspection takes place. PCCs would be able to complement the existing inspection regime under HM Inspectorate of Probation in:

  • providing assurance to Ministers and the public that adult and youth offending work is being delivered effectively;
  • highlighting enablers and barriers to effective practice;
  • making recommendations to improve the quality and impact of the work; and
  • enabling improvement in the effectiveness of probation and youth justice services across England and Wales.
Sharing Best Practice

There are a number of opportunities to ensure that best practice is disseminated should PCCs be given a role in funding probation services. As standard practice Police Transformation Grants, including the recent Home Office Violence Against Women and Girls (VWAG) Fund, require recipients to share the learning and best practice from their projects across the country. If PCCs were to commission probation services, the Ministry of Justice could build these requirements into the Terms and Conditions of the grant.

PCCs are also able to make best use of their local and national networks, including the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) as the membership organisation (and associated portfolio structure), and their local Community Safety Partnerships and Criminal Justice Boards to facilitate effective sharing of best practice.

Involving the Voluntary Sector

You asked how the voluntary sector should be involved, formally and informally, in delivering probation services and support going forward, and what changes could be made in the short term. Evidence over the last few years has shown that the current contractual arrangements and payment by results mechanism does not incentivise Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) to use the voluntary and community sector and, in particular, disadvantages smaller organisations. CRCs are not paid for rehabilitation activity requirements, nor do their contracts incorporate early intervention and preventative activity, which is crucial to supporting efforts to reducing the number of people coming into the system. NOMS accredited programmes are now seen as the main or default answer and, as such, the voluntary and community sector involvement has reduced. Moving to a local commissioning or co-commissioning role would enable PCCs to engage with the voluntary sector and make best use of smaller, locally tailored place-based services and their skills, expertise and innovative methods to reduce reoffending. The voluntary and community sector are often best placed to provide local support to offenders.

In the short term, enabling PCCs to have greater oversight of the commissioning and decommissioning of offender services could support greater engagement with the voluntary sector as PCCs are able to draw on their extensive networks and cross county partnerships.

Geographical Boundaries

The final question you asked was around the challenges of cross-departmental working in the area of probation and how they could be overcome. All criminal justice agencies operate across different geographical footprints, which presents significant challenges in facilitating cross working. The consolidation of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) has resulted in fewer local areas, creating larger units. The CPS now operates across 13 areas (including Wales and London), HMCTS operate across seven geographical regions and has separately amalgamated court areas on a different geographical footprint to the CPS areas. The National Probation Service covers divisional areas and work alongside 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies working to super contract areas, and HM Prison Service operates on a regional basis. Police forces and PCCs work across 43 Constabulary areas. Locally, this has added significant complexity and fragmentation across the criminal justice landscape, with different agencies working to different boundaries and unable to commit resources or budgets to a single locality.

Moving forward, a realignment of criminal justice agencies’ geographical boundaries based around constabulary areas or existing collaborated areas, for instance, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire (BCH) or the ‘Eastern Region’ would allow for some level of co-terminosity and alignment of priorities and resources.

Cross working could also be greatly assisted by criminal justice agencies moving to a more thematic approach - for instance around reducing reoffending or special focus areas including domestic abuse, violence or hate crime that brings all the agencies together to focus on joint outcomes around vulnerable people. Giving PCCs a greater role would enable the criminal justice system to engage with those most at risk of offending, rather than those who have already offended which offers the greatest potential to lead to transformation of the criminal justice system.

March 2018


  1. ... our cultures are too different and we wouldn’t be ‘probation’ any more. We’d be more subservient to the police than we are already. The police ‘offender managers’ would further poach our work until PO’s no longer requires. ARMS would be the new OASys. Supervision would become an interrogation. And probation would become more racist than it already is. That’s just for starters and without even mentioning most PCC’s have an interest in revenue!

  2. Can one person really do so much? What do we know about PCCs since they were elected? Have they made a notable difference?

  3. FROM the Financial times at about 8.30am TODAY

    " Interserve shares tumble on widening losses
    Results underscore scale of challenge faced by struggling government contractor"


    ""Glynn Barker, chairman, said the group’s financial performance was “extremely poor”.

    “The turmoil of the past 16 months is behind us, but the hard work is not. We have made good progress in dealing with the challenges of progressing our exit from energy from waste but significant risks clearly remain.”

    Interserve is one of Britain’s biggest outsourcing companies, with a £7bn order book that ranges from managing the Ministry of Defence’s estate to running probation services for the Ministry of Justice to cleaning the London Underground in Britain, as well as construction work in the Middle East.

    There had been fears that it could go bust like its larger rival Carillion, which collapsed in January leaving the government to ensure the delivery of essential services that range from hospital cleaning to school meals.

    But the company signed off on a last-ditch rescue package with its lenders including HSBC, Lloyds, RBS and Barclays on Friday that will give the company breathing space to restructure the business. It now has cash borrowing facilities of £834m until September 2021 though the interest bill will be £56m in 2018, rising to £70m a year in future putting pressure on the company to generate cash."

  4. ...and they say that public services are inefficient and a drain on the public purse. All this money spent on digging out failing contractors. It's our money!
    Well documented that in some CRC areas the cost is now higher to provide the service that when it was delivered under probation. I would argue that we were better at it.

  5. There are PCCs that have been pretty outspoken on crime and justice issues in their regions. I think of Vera Baird who seems to have taken a very active role since she took office.
    There are others that I feel have achieved their position without having any real interest in crime and justice.
    The success of putting 'oversight' of justice issues in the hands of PPCs is really dependent on who the PPC is.
    Some I feel will make the call, not because they want 'oversight' but because its a way to download funding to local councils.
    I wonder too how local mayors would react if PPCs were responsible in total for the 'oversight' local crime and justice issues.
    Here's a list of all PPCs by region if anyone is interested in trying to work out what giving 'oversight' to PPCs might mean for crime and justice in their own region.


  6. Unanswered from yesterday: "Please can someone explain what "carry out 10 days rehabilitation" will involve?"

    Still waiting...

    1. God created the earth in 7 days.
      Just imagine what he could of done if he wouldw of had 10 days!!

    2. (1)The Criminal Justice Act 2003 is amended as follows.
      (2)In sections 177(1) and 190(1) (requirements that may be imposed as part of a community order or suspended sentence order) after paragraph (a) insert—
      “(aa)a rehabilitation activity requirement (as defined by section 200A),”.
      (3)After section 200 insert—
      “200ARehabilitation activity requirement

      (1)In this Part “rehabilitation activity requirement”, in relation to a relevant order, means a requirement that, during the relevant period, the offender must comply with any instructions given by the responsible officer to attend appointments or participate in activities or both.
      (2)A relevant order imposing a rehabilitation activity requirement must specify the maximum number of days for which the offender may be instructed to participate in activities.
      (3)Any instructions given by the responsible officer must be given with a view to promoting the offender's rehabilitation; but this does not prevent the responsible officer giving instructions with a view to other purposes in addition to rehabilitation.
      (4)The responsible officer may instruct the offender to attend appointments with the responsible officer or with someone else.
      (5)The responsible officer, when instructing the offender to participate in activities, may require the offender to—
      (a)participate in specified activities and, while doing so, comply with instructions given by the person in charge of the activities, or
      (b)go to a specified place and, while there, comply with any instructions given by the person in charge of the place.
      (6)The references in subsection (5)(a) and (b) to instructions given by a person include instructions given by anyone acting under the person's authority.
      (7)The activities that responsible officers may instruct offenders to participate in include—
      (a)activities forming an accredited programme (see section 202(2));
      (b)activities whose purpose is reparative, such as restorative justice activities.
      (8)For the purposes of subsection (7)(b) an activity is a restorative justice activity if —
      (a)the participants consist of, or include, the offender and one or more of the victims,
      (b)the aim of the activity is to maximise the offender's awareness of the impact of the offending concerned on the victims, and
      (c)the activity gives a victim or victims an opportunity to talk about, or by other means express experience of, the offending and its impact.
      (9)In subsection (8) “victim” means a victim of, or other person affected by, the offending concerned.
      (10)Where compliance with an instruction would require the co-operation of a person other than the offender, the responsible officer may give the instruction only if that person agrees.
      (11)In this section “the relevant period” means—
      (a)in relation to a community order, the period for which the community order remains in force, and
      (b)in relation to a suspended sentence order, the supervision period as defined by section 189(1A).”
      (4)Sections 201 and 213 (activity requirements and supervision requirements) are repealed.
      (5)Schedule 5 to this Act contains consequential provision.

    3. Sorry I asked