TR was supposed to deliver end-to-end offender management - a worthy aim. As sited by HMI Probation “there is much more prospect of a relationship that is strong and fruitful if it is maintained with one probation worker over the period of supervision.”
But the TR model has, instead, made it almost impossible. Any hope of consistency in supervision is undermined by the split. For a start, CRC staff are not allowed to write pre-sentence reports. If an offender commits a further offence then the case goes to the NPS for a report to be written by someone who will meet the offender only once for an interview and who will not have the same knowledge of the individual as the supervising officer who has been handling the case.
In 2017 HMI Probation found that: “only one in two individuals [was] supervised by the same officer throughout their case. In 5% of cases there had been three or more officers”.
Staff shortages in both arms of the service have also worked against effective end-to-end offender management. HMIP said in its 2019 report: “there is now a national shortage of probation professionals, plus much of the service is underfunded and so restrained in the numbers it can afford to employ. With these pressures, and with the NPS and the CRCs increasingly reliant on agency staff, individuals frequently experience a change of probation worker.”
Additionally the Inspectorate found that end-to-end offender management was not even set as a Probation target, stating: “Performance measures for the NPS and for CRCs do not require continuity in the relationships with offenders, and the continuity rate is not routinely measured.”
Another major cornerstone of TR was ‘Through the Gate’ and the extension of probation supervision and support to individuals released from sentences under 12-months.
However, TTG has also been an abject failure. The service to prisoners leaving custody has been almost non-existent and far inferior to the service provided pre-TR by Trusts, often working cooperatively and in partnership with local authorities. Indeed, Napo has pointed out that since the commencement of TR, the Through the Gate service (TTG) has largely consisted of giving the released prisoner a leaflet (so that the CRC complies with its initial meet and greet targets) but little else. Indeed, the MoJ had not defined what they actually meant by TTG in the hastily contrived contracts, and as such the CRCs are able to do the bare minimum to comply with contract management.
The Justice Select Committee Inquiry into TR in 2018 reported: “the joint inspection report on TTG resettlement services for short-term prisoners labelled the ‘CRCs’ efforts pedestrian at best’ and explained that ‘in too many cases, resettlement planning consisted of no more than referrals to other agencies, recorded as completed once an e-mail had been sent’”. It also heard from probation users that “through the gate [was] non-existent”.
The extension of supervision to individuals who had served short-term sentences was intended to address the high reoffending rates of these individuals. In 2018 the reoffending rate for those released from sentence of less than 12 months was 63%. This compared with 56% for those given a community sentence. Ironically however, since TR, as sentencers have lost confidence in the ability of the private companies to deliver community sentences properly we have seen a rise in short sentences and a reduction in community sentences, and the MoJ is now talking about scrapping them altogether!
Napo will be hosting a drop-in session for MPs on 1st of May to put this, and seven other reasons to reunify the probation service to MPs.
If you haven’t already done so, complete the postcard and send it back to your local MP encouraging them to join the fight to make sure the probation service is able to rehabilitate clients, keep the public safe and to protect your profession.
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