Union claims Probation services in Gloucestershire are in crisis
The leader of the largest trade union representing Probation staff in England and Wales today claimed that service provision in Gloucestershire, part of the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) owned by Aurelius/Working Links is in a state of chaos and represents a danger to public safety.
Ian Lawrence, General Secretary of Napo (the trade union for Probation and Family Court workers) said: “The release of yet another damning report from Her Majesty’s Inspector of Probation (HMIP), about inadequate service provision in Gloucestershire is further proof that our predictions prior to the privatisation of the probation service have proven to be correct. This must raise serious questions as to whether Aurelius/Working Links ought to be stripped of its contract and the supervision of its clients restored to public control.”
The HMIP report by Dame Glenys Stacey says that higher risk individuals within the management of the National Probation Service (NPS) were well served, but that the picture is altogether different for clients posing a medium and lower risk of harm in Gloucestershire who are managed by the Bristol, Gloucester, Somerset and Wiltshire Community Rehabilitation Company (BGSW CRC).
The inspectorates report highlights systemic failures in managing the risk of harm, applying measures to help offenders move away from crime, and inadequate delivery of Court sentences. The inspectorate also says that despite the ‘heroic’ efforts of staff, the service provided by the Aurelius/Working Links enterprise was nowhere near the standard expected.
The inspection looked at the quality of probation work carried out by the CRC and the NPS and assessed the effectiveness of work undertaken locally with people who have committed crimes. This was the second inspection of adult probation work under the control of a CRC owned by Working Links and the first covering the NPS South West & Central Division.
Ian Lawrence added: “This independent report is among the worst I have ever seen, but I am not all surprised. Napo and our sister unions have been in dispute for well over 18 months as we have tried desperately to get proper engagement with the employers who have refused to recognise the myriad problems that we have been raising and which have now been identified in the HMIP report. How this company has just been given another £4.5 million of taxpayer’s money is beyond belief.
“Our members report the sheer exhaustion of trying to maintain an unsafe operational model which offers minimal face-to-face supervision of clients. There are also huge problems as a result of staff cuts of around 40%, resulting in high absence figures, massive caseloads and a damaging loss of morale. In short, our members are telling me that their employer is unfit for purpose.”
The union is calling for a full Parliamentary enquiry into the impact of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme implemented by former Secretary of State Chris Grayling in 2014, which allowed private companies to manage probation services.
Napo is the trade union and professional association for probation and family court workers and is recognised in the NPS, the 21 CRCs, Probation Board Northern Ireland and Cafcass.
Media opportunities should be directed via General Secretary Ian Lawrence on 07788 118005 or via Napo Headquarters on 0207 223 4887.
Notes to editors:
In June 2014, 36 Probation Trusts were abolished and probation work was divided between two separate organisations. The National Probation Service (NPS) was directed to manage offenders posing a high risk of serious harm to others and those subject to Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). The NPS also had responsibility for probation services to the Courts, including writing pre-sentence reports, and for victim contact work. The rest of the probation work was allocated to 21 newly created CRCs. In February 2015, the CRCs were sold to private companies.