The Probation Inspectorate today published a damning report on the government’s TR programme saying: “The probation model delivered by Transforming Rehabilitation is irredeemably flawed. “
The report continues: “Above all, it has proved well-nigh impossible to reduce probation services to a set of contractual requirements. Professional probation work is so much more than simply a series of transactions, and when treated in that way it is distorted and diminished.”
Dame Glenys Stacey pulls no punches in the report, telling the Secretary of State that: “to implement government policy, capable probation leaders were required to deliver change they did not believe in, against the very ethos of the profession. On inspection, we now find probation supervision provided under contract to be sub-standard, and much of it demonstrably poor. Judicial confidence in community sentencing is now at serious risk”.
In an open letter to David Gauke, the Chief Inspector states: “You have taken the bold decision to terminate contracts early, with the intention of re-contracting on better terms, and aligning provider boundaries. While this would help, it would leave serious design flaws unaddressed. With contracts now likely to end in December 2020, there is an opportunity to redesign the service.”
Napo has called on the government to abandon its plans to remarket the service under the current model with General Secretary, Ian Lawrence saying: “This latest contribution by the chief inspector and her team is not only testimony to their excellent work, but it endorses the conclusions of two Parliamentary Committees and our expert practitioner members that the earlier ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ reforms have been a complete disaster, and have failed to deliver what was promised.”
The HMIP report shows, among other findings, that:
- 80% of CRCs it inspected were rated as “inadequate” in terms of implementation and delivery of probation supervision;
- the forecast losses of CRCs as at March 2018 (if the contracts had continued as planned) were £294 million, compared with £269 million forecast profit at the bid stage;
- the reoffending rate for adults released from a custodial sentence of less than 12 months (January to March 2017 cohort) was 64%, compared to 28% for those serving longer sentences;
- the proportion of criminal justice third-sector voluntary organisations now working directly with CRCs was only 11%.
Commenting on the report, Napo General Secretary, Ian Lawrence said: “the chief inspector has highlighted the fact that not only have the CRCs delivered sub-standard services, but the NPS also has significant failings. Staff shortages and a reduction in professional standards have resulted in unmanageable workloads across the board. In London alone, staff vacancies are running at 20%, so it’s clear that the NPS is not sustainable in its current form.”
The MoJ plans to let 10 new contracts later this year which will see an increase in the size of the existing CRCs but a reduction in the number of private providers have attracted massive criticism from stakeholders across the justice system, who are also joining the call by Napo and Dame Glenys Stacey for ministers to halt the programme and consider an alternative model.