Sunday 12 September 2021

Probation House Style

Probation under civil service control absolutely loves acronyms and there's a very particular management house style I have the greatest difficulty taking seriously and reconciling with the real world. Take for example the latest Insight blog :-
Delivering Quality Interventions in Probation: The Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (RAR)

Jason Morris and Laura Baverstock work as Senior Policy Managers within the Service Design Team in the Probation Reform Programme (PRP). In this blog, they explain the work that has been underway to uphold key commitments to increasing the availability of quality RAR interventions in Probation; make best use of evidence and evaluation; and, preserve Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) innovation with a collaborative approach to service design.

On 26th June 2021, 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) were renationalised and unified with the National Probation Service (NPS) to form a new Probation Service for England and Wales. Since then, the Probation Reform Programme (PRP) has continued its work to implement probation’s Target Operating Model (TOM). The TOM provides a blueprint of how the new Probation Service will operate. As part of this effort, we’ve been working to equip Probation Practitioners and Regional Interventions Teams with quality interventions that enable the delivery of Rehabilitation Activity Requirements (RARs).

The Rehabilitation Activity Requirement

RARs form part of a Community Order or Suspended Sentence Order to set the amount and type of rehabilitation activity for people on probation. They were introduced in the Offender Rehabilitation Act (2014), as a distinct sentencing option to the ‘programme requirement’ (fulfilled through Accredited Programme completion). Prior to reunification hundreds of identifiable RAR interventions were available across the CRCs alongside many other bespoke interventions. Over recent years, room for improvement has been identified in the delivery of RARs both from the academic community and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP).

The TOM sets out how the Probation Service will deliver RARs. A large amount of RAR activity will be commissioned from partner organisations through “Commissioned Rehabilitative Services”. The main vehicle for Probation Service-delivered RARs will be in the form of Structured Interventions and Probation Practitioner Toolkits (also referred to below simply as "toolkits"). Structured Interventions provide a set of exercises delivered primarily to groups by interventions facilitators in a set sequence. Toolkits are comprised of similar material delivered by the Probation Practitioner on a one-to-one basis as part of supervision.

Our task now is to ensure that the TOM is fully implemented to ensure consistency in the availability and quality of Structured Interventions and toolkits. This will improve confidence amongst stakeholders (including the courts) around how the Probation Service delivers RARs.

Approved Suites: Structured Interventions and Probation Practitioner Toolkits

The national Effective Interventions Panel (EIP) played a key role in the lead up to reunification, by enabling RAR interventions to be appraised against seven core principles set out by the Correctional Services Accreditation Advice Panel (principles that are distinct from those required for Accredited Programmes).

The Seven Principles used within the EIP to assess Structured Interventions and toolkits are as follows:

1. Alignment with an evidence base
2. Credible rationale for how, why and for whom the intervention will work
3. A structure that allows replication
4. A selection process that targets the intervention appropriately
5. To equip people with useful skills and ensure that no one will be disadvantaged or harmed
6. Quality assurance to ensure it is delivered as designed.
7. A commitment to research and evaluation

The EIP is made up of experts from across HMPPS. Panel sessions involve a democratic scoring process, which results in recommendations and conclusions that are fed back to developers.

HMPPS Contract Management and the PRP Service Design Team identified interventions from CRC rate cards to continue as Structured Interventions in the unified Probation Service “post contract”. In addition, the EIP sat eight times between October 2020 and January 2021 to appraise 45 Structured interventions. A total of 37 were ear marked for incorporation into an Approved Suite of Structured Interventions that would come into effect by April 2022.

The EIP also sat 10 times to appraise Probation Practitioner Toolkits between April and May 2021. During these toolkit EIP sessions, a total of 24 sets of materials were appraised and seven toolkits were provisionally approved for inclusion in an 'Approved Suite of Probation Practitioner Toolkits'.

EIP decisions were then ratified through a further governance process which approved development work to finalise the approved suites of toolkits and Structured Interventions. The overarching ambition for Probation Practitioner Toolkits was to create greater alignment across the suite to increase their potential to work as wraparound support for other interventions. In addition, several overlapping EIP-approved Structured Interventions were identified for amalgamation into single offers via workgroups comprised of staff from Regional Interventions Teams. A total of 12 Structured Interventions would account for all Structured Intervention delivery from April 2022 onwards.

The Structured Intervention workgroups offer a key opportunity to refine innovation in a stepwise fashion to Structured Interventions:

- fully adhere to EIP principles

- build on CRC innovation

- involve people on probation as co-creators

- integrate sentence management support through alignment with toolkits

Clinical and strategic oversight for Structured Interventions and toolkits will continue to be provided by the national EIP process. This governance will help establish toolkits as the vehicle for RAR delivery within the role of the Probation Practitioner; a step that aims to help put the supervisory relationship back at the heart of probation work. Furthermore, continued EIP governance will help us to work towards greater content alignment between supervision and in-house interventions (such as Structured Interventions and Accredited Programmes). This has the potential to enable interventions to combine more holistically, making the experience of probation more cohesive for people accessing a range of probation services.


  1. Thank you thank you Jim an excellent insomnia cure. When will probation management stop trying to reinvent what already happens in all Pos day functions. Blah blah re organising the same hackney with new acronyms is so more boring than watching paint dry. I bet the authors are still trying to reinvent the magic bean tree formula. Wake up your type destroyed best practice already put it back you want to make a difference . We despair of you tossers.

  2. "On 26th June 2021, 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) were renationalised and unified with the National Probation Service (NPS) to form a new Probation Service for England and Wales."

    * It was not 'renationalised'; it was always under MoJ control

    "decisions were then ratified through a further governance process which approved development work... This governance will help establish toolkits as the vehicle for RAR delivery within the role of the Probation Practitioner; ... fully adhere to EIP principles... continued EIP governance will help us to work towards greater content alignment"

    Amazing how happily they mix-&-match the concepts of governance & approval with holisitc & accessible.

    " greater alignment across the suite to increase their potential to work as wraparound support"

    "put the supervisory relationship back at the heart of probation work."

    What utter, utter bollox.

    NB: "The EIP is made up of experts from across HMPPS."

    TOM Feb 2021: "Effective Interventions Panel - A national Effective Interventions Panel will be established to provide assurance that Structured Interventions are being designed and delivered in line with evidence-based principles for effective interventions."

    Who are these mysterious gurus? Are they also part of the Correctional Services Advice and Accreditation Panel (CSAAP)?

  3. May 2021, ACO job in South region:

    Overview of the job - The Head of Programmes leads the delivery of a suite of Accredited Programmes and Structured Interventions, excluding extremism, within the region.

    They will support the Head of NPS Interventions by providing dedicated leadership and management for a suite of Accredited Programmes and Structured Interventions and Senior Attendance Centres.

    Summary - The post holder will provide management, with responsibility for resources and the strategic and operational direction, for a suite of Accredited Programmes and Structured Interventions within the region.

    42957 - Head of Accredited Programmes & Structured Interventions (ACO)for South West region as well

    Perhaps all regions did the same?

    Meanwhile Justin's Inspectorate said in May 2021 (Ch.4.1 pp31-34):

    "A national effective interventions panel has been put in place to assess and approve structured interventions previously designed by the CRCs to deliver ehabilitative activity requirements (RARs) in their areas. Involvement of CRC interventions staff in this process was limited. Each regional probation director is required to select at least one structured intervention to be delivered in their area to address three key resettlement and rehabilitation pathways relating to: attitudes, thinking
    and behaviour; emotional management; and domestic abuse. In addition, toolkits called ‘Stepping stones’ have been issued to sentence management staff to enable consistent delivery of one-to-one structured interventions, for example while someone is waiting to start a group programme or as an intervention."

    And back in 2020 Russell Webster said:

    "There will be a rationalisation of Rehabilitation Activity Requirements (RARs) currently delivered by CRCs:

    “A national Effective Interventions Panel will be convened to assess and approve current Rehabilitation Activity Requirements (RARs) delivered by the CRCs in the 3 need areas (Attitudes, Thinking and Behaviour; Domestic Abuse and Emotional Management), for future in-house delivery by the NPS. RARs which do not meet these criteria will be rolled down.”"

    And HMPPS are busy filling in the forms:

    "Commencing by May 2021, the National Effective Interventions Panel will assess all toolkits against criteria contained within the new HMPPS Rehabilitation Strategy, so that only ‘Approved Toolkits’ are carried forward into the unified model. A number of toolkits are promoted for use by Responsible Officers where accredited programmes cannot be undertaken.
    Some of the toolkits already in existence have had positive evaluations or, as in the case of Maps for Change, designed to address sexual offending, evaluation is underway."

    Within this spectacular piece of box-ticking can be found an absolute gem:

    "MoJ analysts are scoping a large-scale, rigorous outcome study on blended supervision. This will consider the effectiveness of blended supervision under the unified model, testing different blended approaches in specific regions compared with a “baseline” blended supervision comparator."

    The Magimix Effect?

  4. Welcome to UK plc - where noone trusts anyone:

    "The prime minister says this was the "moment for the whole country to come together" over the lockdown rules to combat coronavirus.

    Boris Johnson told MPs that "good solid British common sense" had worked throughout phase one and he had "no doubt" it would work in the second phase of fighting the disease."

    Johnson said legal controls will be replaced by “personal responsibility”

    "Covid: More than 300,000 suspected of breaking quarantine rules

    Nearly a third of people arriving in England and Northern Ireland as the coronavirus Delta variant took off may have broken quarantine rules.

    The Home Office has said it aims to pay home visits to all travellers suspected of not following the rules."

    What a clusterfuck.

  5. Blended supervision?

    "A little dab'll do ya." - Randall McMurphy as they prepare him for blending.

  6. A chance tonight to see the classic 1952 probation film 'I Believe in You' 9pm Talking Pictures TV.

    1. Currently enjoying The Winslow Boy : )

    2. I'll watch out for all the acronyms in use in 1952 whilst I'm trying to work out how there could ever have been a probation service prior to OASyS!


    3. T'is a different universe what we live in now, squire!

  7. Hi there JBB. We do love a TLA.and even four... Remember SLOPs and SNOPs?

    1. Oh yes WYSOP West Yorkshire Statement of Objectives and Priorities if I recall.

  8. Ridiculous puff from people desperate to justify their own roles, using terminology ever further removed from the work on the ground.