Today, Tuesday 20 November, Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, gave a speech which outlined how the Government wants to reform parts of the criminal justice system. In particular he focused extending the role of the private, voluntary and charity sector in helping rehabilitate and resettle offenders and reducing re-offending.
The main points from the speech and subsequent questions were:
- The status quo is not an option.
- The Government recognised the specialised professional role of probation which would continue to have an important role supporting the courts, working with serious and high risk offenders and guarding society from harm.
- The private and voluntary sector would be invited to help reduce re-offending through Payment by Results contracts.
- Commissioning of services would be done centrally.
- The Government will publish a paper setting out the plans in more detail and provide the basis for engagement with stakeholders.
In a joint response, Sue Hall, Chair of the Probation Chiefs Association and Sebert Cox, Chair of the Probation Association, said: “We welcome the fact Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, has acknowledged the critical role probation plays in society and that he values probation’s expertise, particularly when dealing with high risk offenders and keeping the public safe.
“In a recent letter the PCA set out both our views in relation to Offender Management and we believe that probation’s undoubted expertise and skill set means probation should continue to deliver Offender Management for both high and low risk offenders.
“Fragmentation of Offender Management – that is the administration of orders made by the courts – will undermine risk management and therefore the protection of the public.
“It is essential that offenders have regular face-to-face contact with trained Probation Officers, which will ensure any escalation of an offender’s behaviour or risk of re-offending can be effectively managed.
“We will continue our dialogue with Ministers to ensure probation’s views and expertise is fully taken into consideration as the Government’s plans move forward.”
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