23 June 2017 - Immediate Release
Some improvements to court work still failing to deliver
Today Her Majesties Inspectorate for Probation published the third Inspection report this week, this time looking at probation work in courts. Compared to earlier reports this is relatively positive in that it shows there has been some improvement in probation court work in the last year. However, it still raises concerns about how the probation service is functioning post-privatisation and that pre-sentence reports are not providing adequate risk assessments in many cases.
Whilst Napo welcomes a more positive outcome from this inspection, it does not truly reflect the reality that our members are facing on a day-to-day basis. Napo members report that they are having to complete up to six reports a day at court in order to meet the Ministry of Justice target of 80% of reports being written in a short format, or delivered verbally to the court. They say they have no time to do safeguarding checks for domestic violence or child protection before an individual is sentenced, thus increasing the risk to potential victims.
Napo welcomes the recognition by the Inspector that probation ICT systems are woefully inadequate with many laptops not having the functionality to complete the tasks in hand. This is despite the government’s aspirations to digitalise the court system. Napo is concerned that probation is being left behind in technology which makes the workload even greater for our members.
It is deeply concerning that the Inspector found that Community Rehabilitation Companies (private providers) are allowing offenders to miss too many appointments before they take legal action via the enforcement courts. Napo members echo this concern with reports that some CRCs encourage staff not to enforce court orders in order to show offenders as complying and increase the organisations performance targets.
Ian Lawrence General Secretary said: "Whilst it is welcomed that there have been some improvements in court work, we still believe we are long way off from the quality of service being delivered before TR in 2015. Our members feel that they do not have the time to do adequate risk assessments prior to sentencing due to the arbitrary targets set by the Ministry of Justice. This situation must be reviewed urgently by Ministers as professional practitioners should be able to decide which sort of report they provide to the court on an individual basis. It is also deeply worrying that CRCs are not breaching offenders who fail to comply with court orders and this must also be investigated immediately."
For further information and possible media opportunities please contact Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence on 07788 118005 or Tania Bassett (lead for media and parliamentary issues) on 0790 4184195.