Napo tells Justice Committee: the Probation Service is in serious difficulty
The leader of the largest trade union representing Probation staff in England and Wales (Napo) told the Justice Select Committee today, that the probation service is in serious difficulty and that taxpayers are continuing to fund systemic failure especially across the 21 outsourced Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs).
General Secretary Ian Lawrence in an oral evidence session told the Committee that halfway through the initial 7-year contracts with the MoJ, reports by Dame Glenys Stacey, Chief Inspector for Probation, and the National Audit Office reveal that private probation providers are barely meeting one third of their performance targets and that despite hundreds of millions of pounds in Government funding, the Payment by Results mechanism (PbR) has resulted in only two out of 21 CRC’s qualifying for the scheme.
Meanwhile, the National Probation Service (NPS) struggles with low staff morale and record staff shortages together with administrative chaos that has seen at least 2000 staff being incorrectly paid or not having their pension deductions correctly made throughout most of 2017.
Ian Lawrence said: “Several months on and the position is no better than when we were last here before the Committee. Since then we have had the Probation System Review, the precursor to the huge financial ‘bail out’ for the Community Rehabilitation Companies that featured at the recent hearing of the Committee for Public Accounts with no accountability or transparency being provided in terms of value for money for the taxpayer. It’s a situation not unlike that which caused the collapse of Carillion.”
The JSC were also provided with first hand written testimonies from a number of probation practitioners detailing their experiences in coping with the myriad problems that have followed the implementation of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms (TR) in the spring of 2015.
In his evidence to the JSC Ian Lawrence also referenced the union’s serious concerns about the operational models that are being run by some CRC providers, citing an example where 19 trained Probation Officers have left the German owned Aurelius/Working Links organisation over the last nine months.
Ian Lawrence also said: “Some of the independent reports into what is going on in Probation are among the worst I have ever seen, and bear out the views of our hard pressed and highly committed members that TR has been an unmitigated disaster. Napo believes that the Probation service must be fully restored into public ownership.”
The Justice Committee are currently considering evidence from a number of contributors and are expected to report later this year.
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.