We recommend that from 1 February 2019 the Ministry of Justice should publish information on probation supply chains for each CRC area and NPS region on a quarterly basis. This should include information on all sub-contractors (not just those in the voluntary sector) and the monetary value of the sub-contracts. (Paragraph 100)
We do not accept this recommendation. Under Schedule 4 of the Amended and Restated Services Agreement we cannot publish information which has supplier information included, without their permission, as it is commercially sensitive.
However, we are working with providers to seek agreement to publish sub-contractor lists on a quarterly basis and improve transparency in this respect. The Ministry will require agreement from both the Parent Organisations and Sub-Contractors themselves for this information to be published.
We will monitor the health of CRC supply chains by requiring confirmation that payments due to supply chain partners are made in line with contractual obligations.
We recommend that the Ministry of Justice should consider, in response to this Report, what benefits might be gained from reintroducing targets for each Community Rehabilitation Company on the proportion of its budget which should be spent on voluntary sector provision, and whether involving some of the smaller, more specialised voluntary sector organisations could be incentivised. (Paragraph 102)
Given their shortened lifespan we do not intend to introduce new requirements or targets for Community Rehabilitation Companies.
In future arrangements we want to see a much clearer role for a wide range of voluntary sector providers in probation delivery, including local and specialist services. Throughout the consultation we were told that we needed to consider how to create the right environment to enable these organisations to deliver resettlement and rehabilitation services. To make the most of the range of providers available, we believe that these interventions should be commissioned and delivered locally where possible.
We have developed an approach to support the direct participation of smaller voluntary sector providers in the delivery of resettlement and rehabilitation activities. This will be through the procurement of a dynamic framework across England and Wales. The dynamic framework will operate as an open panel of suppliers, who can be admitted to the panel at any point during its lifetime subject to a qualification process (based on experience and capabilities).
By 1 February 2019, the Ministry of Justice should review the ISPA, with a view to reducing its length and complexity. The Ministry should write to the Committee after that review to set out the changes that it has made. (Paragraph 106)
We received significant feedback on the ISPA in the responses to the consultation and continue to review how we best ensure the contract meets the needs of the supply chain. The MoJ is committed to ensuring voluntary sector participation in procurement.
We recommend that the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies should be required to provide the Ministry of Justice with workforce data on a quarterly basis. This should include information on the recruitment and retention rates for Probation Officers and other case managers by grade, and total workforce numbers by NPS area and CRC. This data should be published by the Ministry as part of its quarterly statistics. (Paragraph 116)
As of October 2018, workforce data – including information on recruitment and retention – is collected from CRCs as well as the NPS. The CRC providers are the owners of this information, and given it is commercially sensitive, publication is not possible.
However, the Ministry is utilising this information to support whole-system probation workforce planning and the design of future contracts. In addition, we are investigating whether this information can be shared publicly.
We recommend that from 2019 all providers, both CRCs and the NPS, should be required to use the same, or a similar, staff survey each year. Results of those staff surveys should be published for the seven NPS areas and the 21 CRCs. (Paragraph 119).
In future, all offender management will be delivered by NPS staff, who are civil servants. They will therefore be subject to the wider Government staff survey.
We recommend that the Ministry of Justice should publish a probation workforce strategy, which covers both staff working in the NPS and CRCs, in the next 12 months. As a minimum, the strategy should set out the Ministry’s expectations with regard to professional standards, training, maximum caseloads/workloads for probation staff. This strategy should be developed in consultation with the trade unions and HM Inspectorate of Probation. (Paragraph 126).
We do not accept this recommendation. Rather, HMPPS is developing a wide-ranging HR programme as part of its professional recognition programme. We recognise that resource requirements to manage cases will vary. As a result, HMPPS is seeking to deploy a common tiering framework for offender management to enable comparisons of workload. Current workforce planning assumptions for offender management are for average caseloads to be below 60. This is in line with HM Inspectorate of Probation guidance, which states: “Aggregate caseloads of more than 60 cases would normally be considered difficult to supervise effectively.”
We are working hard to recruit more probation officers. In 2018, 707 Probation Service Officers were appointed, some of whom will be training to become qualified probation officers.
We also want to ensure that our staff’s professional service is supported by ongoing continuous professional development and recognition through an independent statutory register for probation professionals and intend to bring forward legislation when Parliamentary time allows to establish this. This will help ensure there is a shared identify and culture amongst all staff who will be in the NPS in the future.
By 1 February 2019, the Ministry of Justice should ensure that security constraints and IT barriers which prevent data from being shared between organisations involved in managing an offender from the point of arrest, in prison and through to support in the community are proportionate. This should include identifying how the number of IT systems could be rationalised and/or linked so that the same data is not repeatedly inputted into different systems. (Paragraph 131)
As outlined in the consultation, we recognise the importance of simplifying data access and improving data sharing. Action is already underway to facilitate better access to essential data for probation providers.
Data sharing arrangements with other departments already exist, including with the Police, DWP, HMRC as well as between prison and probation services. Since January 2018, HMPPS has taken in-house the management of the prison case management system, Prison NOMIS, and the risk and needs assessment tool, OASys. This enables us to make changes and develop Application Programme Interfaces (APIs), which facilitate greater, faster and better data sharing internally and externally. This includes an interface to the MoJ analytics platform and performance platform. Work is also underway to migrate the probation case management system, National Delius, to a new cloud environment that is expected to reduce a number of the current access and related security constraints. This is due to be completed by the summer.
As part of the development of the next generation of probation services, we plan to simplify data access and exchange across HMPPS digital services and deliver improvements to IT systems. We are working towards greater centralisation of data systems, in particular those relating to risk and needs assessments, and improved data sharing within HMPPS and with external partners. The HMPPS Digital and Technology Strategy is looking to address the current need for users to have access to multiple HMPPS systems and work towards establishing data services that provide the relevant information the user needs via a single interface.
(To be continued)