Newsletter 30 July 2013

Dear PCA member

Please see below a packed summer edition of the PCA Newsletter.

Work here at PCA continues unabated. We continue to represent the probation professional standpoint, ensuring that the expertise of probation practitioners continues to feed in to the design of new Transforming Rehabilitation processes. There have been a number of workshops over the past month attended by volunteers from trusts. We hope to be able to feed back from these events in forthcoming newsletters.

We value your feedback. Send your comments to feedback@localhost

Savas Hadjipavlou
PCA Chief Executive


  1. PCA welcomes excellent Probation Trust Annual Performance Ratings 2012-13
  2. HMI Probation publish Annual Report 2012-3
  3. Institute for Government report questions government’s procurement capabilities
  4. Justice Select Committee publishes report on Women Offenders
  5. T2A launch new maturity guide for probation
  6. MoJ Analytical Services show importance of probation expertise in reducing reoffending
  7. Read our report on the Community Budgets Workshop
  8. PCA lead workshop at Criminal Justice Convention
  9. Initiatives launched to help Trusts’ leadership teams through the ‘TR’ transition process
  10. Good news stories – we’d like to hear from you
  11. Giving women and girls a say

PCA welcomes excellent Trust Annual Performance Ratings 2012-13

PCA are delighted to report that the Probation Trust Annual Performance Ratings 2012-13 demonstrate strong performances across all 35 Probation Trusts, with all Trusts’ performances rated as either good or exceptional.
NOMS assess the performance of Trusts using the Performance Trust Rating System (PTRS), which measures Trusts’ effectiveness across public protection, reducing re-offending and sentence delivery. Performance is graded into one of four brands:
4 – Exceptional performance
3 – Good performance
2 – Requiring improvement
1 – Serious concerns

With all Trusts receiving either a ‘3’ or ‘4’ rating, we are pleased that these statistics reflect the excellent work carried out by probation professionals across England & Wales.
NOMS have also published their Prison Annual Performance Ratings 2012-13.

MoJ have released their Proven Re-offending Statistics Quarterly Bulletin, October 2010-September 2011.

Re-offending within the context of this report is defined as any offence committed in a one year follow-up period and receiving a court conviction, caution, reprimand or warning in the one year follow-up or within a further six month waiting period.

The proven re-offending rate for those starting a court order (Community Order of Suspended Sentence Order) managed by Probation Trusts was 34.3%, down 3.6 percentage points since 2000. The average number of re-offences per re-offender was 3.22, down 16.7 per cent since 2000.

Just over half of adult offenders discharged from prison were released from a sentence of less than 12 months, where they would not have received any support from probation services. These offenders had a one year proven re-offending rate of 58.5%, an increase of 1.2 percentage points compared to the previous 12 months and an increase of 4.3 percentage points since 2000 (54.3%).

The PCA recognises the importance of these statistics, which illustrate the work of probation in reducing reoffending and increasing public safety.

HMI Probation publish Annual Report 2012-3

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation have published their annual report. The report presents data and case studies from HMI Probation’s inspections over the past 12 months, which include those commissioned in conjunction with HMI Prisons as well as thematic inspections with a focus on both transition arrangements for young adult offenders and Looked After Children.

HM Chief, Liz Calderbank, outlines HMI Probation’s view of the ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ reforms, which we consider complements the position of the PCA. She welcomes the focus on reducing reoffending and the retention of high-risk offenders by the public sector, whilst expressing concerns that the time scales envisaged by the programme could impact negatively on the quality of services during the transition. Furthermore, the outsourcing of medium and low-risk offenders to private companies within these time frames will allow ‘little opportunity for the development of a shared working culture’ and risks the fragmentation of both well established and fledgling local partnerships.

There are many examples of good practice contained within the report, with numerous glowing testimonies from both victims and offenders of the positive impact that probation staff have had on their lives and the excellent quality of support that they received. Within prisons, inspectors praised the attention given to rehabilitation schemes including education, health and social needs in preparing offenders for their return to the community.

However, the report also identifies areas of concern, particularly in relation to transition arrangements from youth to adult services and the management of electronically monitored curfews. The inspectors concluded that more frequent and transparent communication between relevant agencies would greatly improve both these areas, specifically between YOTs and PTs for transitions and between PTs and EM providers regarding curfews. The report offers constructive recommendations and recognises that, particularly in relation to local partnerships, improvements are already occurring.

Overall the report points to the key role that probation professionals play in reducing reoffending and is pleased with the support and constructive relationships between probation officers and individuals to help prevent them from reoffending.

Institute for Government report questions government’s procurement capabilities

Last week the Institute for Government (IfG) published a compelling study on ‘making public service markets work.’

The IfG report analyses successive Government approaches to changing public services through commissioning and outsourcing, and draws on probation and the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms as a case study.

The IfG raise various concerns, including the view that the Government’s current approach to the outsourcing of probation under Transforming Rehabilitation is “inherently risky.” This is very much in line with the PCA (and PA) submission last February, which resonates strongly with the core messages and concerns that emerge from the IfG’s report over:

• The ambition of the scale and the timetable for the reforms, with all 21 of the new contracts for managing low-medium risk offenders in the community (approximately 80% of Probation Trusts’ current caseload) to be completed by the summer of 2014. The IfG report recommends that “a safer route would have been to sequence carefully the changes” rather than undertake such a “big bang” in outsourcing all contracts simultaneously.
• Difficulties in measuring outcomes of reducing reoffending in binary terms for a single provider, when successful rehabilitation is often dependent on addressing multiple needs/issues across a range of public services (e.g. complex health issues, lack of job skills, homelessness).
• That past history of large-scale commissioning and outsourcing of public services by Government departments shows that mistakes are made. The IfG report encourages the MoJ to pay careful attention to the continuity of the service, and allowing “as much flexibility as possible to enable rapid learning and adaptation” when risks and mistakes in commissioning and the emerging new market become apparent.

The IfG report coincided with the release of the Public Administration Select Committee’s critical publication on Government Procurement. This laments the Government’s current ‘lack of clear strategy’ on procurement. Further to this, it contends that the controversies surrounding G4S and Serco’s contracts are “just the most recent example” in “a stream of procurement and management failures [which] continues unabated.”

Justice Select Committee publishes report on Women Offenders

On 15 July the Justice Select Committee (JSC) published their report into “Women Offenders: after the Corston report,” in which the JSC reviewed the current challenges facing women in the criminal justice system. The inquiry reviews the Government’s responsiveness to Baroness Corston’s 2006 report into the plight of women offenders, where she made 43 recommendations on how this could be remedied, calling for a more tailored and inter-departmental approach to the specific needs and difficulties that face these women.

While the report welcomes some recent measures implemented by the Government, such as the establishment of the new Advisory Board, chaired by Helen Grant MP, it criticises the ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ programme for being engineered to target male offending. This point is fiercely contended by the JSC Chair, Sir Alan Beith, in his introduction to the report:

“The Government’s ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ reforms have clearly been designed with male offenders in mind. This is unfortunately symptomatic of an approach within the Ministry of Justice and National Offender Management Service that tends to deal with women offenders as an afterthought.”

The report emphasises the need to work to support women in the criminal justice system (as well as those on ‘the periphery’) in a focused and holistic way, with fears that as many women are categorised as ‘low risk’ in the probation service, their care will be transferred to new providers who need to recognise that the ‘low’ level of risk posed by the majority of female offenders is not reflective of the level of care and support that they require.

“Women Offenders: after the Corston report” welcomes the extension of through the gate supervision to prisoners sentenced to less than 12 months, as this is likely to benefit many female offenders. However, Sir Alan is keen to see more women transferred to women’s centres and using residential alternatives to custody to enable them to access more tailored care and support, which will “help vulnerable women break the cycles that lead to offending or reoffending.”

T2A launch new maturity guide for probation

The Transition2Adulthood (T2A) Alliance and the University of Birmingham (Institute of Applied Social Sciences)have jointly published a new guide for probation practitioners to help them take maturity into account when assessing the needs and risks of young adult offenders aged 18-24. The accompanying background note for probation practitioners can be read here.

The practice guide was trialled with both London Probation and Staffordshire & West Midlands Probation earlier this year where it was well received, with probation staff finding that using the guide could bolster the effectiveness and quality of Pre-Sentence Reports (PSRs) and proposals to sentencers. As well as explaining the meaning of maturity in the context of criminal justice, the guide poses a series of questions to help practitioners make a sound judgement about a young person’s level of maturity.

The guide was discussed at the PCA’s roundtable on youth justice earlier this month, and met with a positive response from both practitioners and policy makers.

The guide is intended to be used alongside the Offender Assessment System (OASys) tool.

For more information or to request hard copies of the guide, please contact Max Rutherford (Criminal Justice Programme Manager at Cadbury Barrow Trust):

MoJ Analytical Services show importance of probation expertise in reducing reoffending

The Ministry of Justice Analytical Services have published two Analytical Summaries reports illustrating how professional probation practice is key to reducing reoffending.

The first report (“Does Supervision After Release from Prison Reduce Re-offending?”) indicates that those serving custodial sentences of under 12 months, who currently receive no probation supervision upon release, are more likely to reoffend than those who receive mandatory probation supervision during a period of licence upon release.

The second report (“Reducing Reoffending by Offenders on Community Orders; Preliminary findings from the Offender Management Cohort study”) underlines how powerful a positive relationship between an offender and their offender manager is in positively shaping behaviour patterns and aiding desistance.

Savas Hadjipavlou, PCA spokesperson, has noted that: “Short-term prisoners currently have no probation intervention and the highest rates of reoffending. The Government is making changes so that all prisoners are subject to a combination of community supervision and licensing lasting at least 12 months from release. We would encourage the Government to work with the probation profession to help safely implement their proposals to extend probation to the ‘under 12 month’ cohort, and build upon probation’s best practice and skills.”

‘The Offender Management Cohort study highlights how important the relationship between the offender and their probation officer is at reducing re-offending. We believe that the creation of a Probation & Offender Rehabilitation Institute would maintain and develop these important skills and practices, by upholding a set of professional standards that all providers of probation services could follow, and facilitating the exchange of knowledge and research over ‘what works.’ The PCA are working with a wide range of stakeholders to explore the creation of such an Institute.”

Read our report on the Community Budget Workshop

The PCA, together with the LGA, Greater Manchester Probation and the Greater Manchester Combined Authorities, recently held a workshop on community budgets and justice.

We have now published the summary report of the workshop.

The community budget report has made a positive start and is considered to be a promising policy-making and service delivery model that could be replicated on a broader scale. Probation Trusts have been key partners to the Whole Place Community Budget pilots, and the summary report illustrates best practice in Manchester.

The PCA workshop also provided an opportunity to consider how the Community Budget agenda could interact with the ‘TR’ reforms.

The summary report outlines concerns that the probation reform agenda is creating an environment of uncertainty for sustaining local partnership initiatives and reinvestment models, and notes tensions in implementing a national commissioning model against local autonomy for public service delivery. The PCA encourages the government and policy makers to work with and engage probation professionals and local stakeholders when designing the new structure of the service delivery.

Going forward, the report highlights the importance of demonstrating real evidence of the effectiveness of local partnership and community budget approaches to potential new providers of probation and community rehabilitation services. Moreover, it indicates that there are plentiful opportunities to incorporate localism into Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC’s) as ‘going concerns’ to be transferred to the private sector and into the contract procurement process.

PCA lead workshop at Criminal Justice Convention

The Criminal Justice Convention held a two-day conference at the start of this month on “Offending and Reoffending.” The conference served as a forum in which leading professionals across the criminal justice system could discuss best practice in reducing reoffending, particularly at a time of change and transition under the ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ reforms.

Ged Bates, PCA lead on Offender Management & Reducing Reoffending, attended the conference and ran a workshop on the ‘TR’ proposals including approaches to ‘Payment by Results.’ The workshop was well attended (although most of those attending the Convention were not from Probation Trusts) and provided a welcome platform for the PCA to articulate its position on this topic.

Initiatives launched to help Trusts’ leadership teams through the ‘TR’ transition process

Our leadership development lead, Barrie Crook, invites you to take part in the following two initiatives concerned with supporting the leadership of Trusts during the ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ transition process.

1. Turning off the lights or passing on the torch?

Thursday 26 September 2013 – 10am-1pm
Mauve 6 – London Probation HQ – 151 Buckingham Palace Road

This workshop is specifically for Chief Executives and Chairs of Probation Trusts. It will focus upon how the experience of closing a Primary Care Trust in March 2013 offers lessons that would be valuable for us now.

Speakers: Sue Winfield – previous Chair of NHS South of Tyne and Wear
Karen Staur – CEO (TBC)

As well as presentations there will be an opportunity for CEOs and Chairs to work in small groups separately and to have paired conversations. A more detailed programme will follow.

The event is being funded jointly by PCA and PA and facilitated by Jane Allen from Harthill.

Please send nominations to Catherine Sinclair-Jones, PCA Executive Assistant: pcaadmin@localhost

2. Senior Manager learning sets

Learning sets for senior managers have now begun, based in London. Subject to demand a further learning set has been commissioned with meetings to be arranged at a convenient location in the north of England. These sets have served as useful learning opportunities for senior managers (e.g. Directors, ACE’s) handling the kind of leadership challenges posed by ‘TR.’

If you would like to nominate a manager to join this set would you please send their details to Barrie Crook’s PA – Belinda Hatch:

Nominations should be received by 9th August. The cost to be met by Trusts is £2000 per place.

Good news stories – we’d like to hear from you

The relationship between an offender and their probation officer is one of the most powerful ways to shape behaviour attitudes and support offenders on their path to desistance. The valuable work that probation offers in this area, and the glowing and often moving testimonies detailing the support that individuals received, demonstrate the ability of probation to make a very tangible and lasting difference to the lives of the people passing through the criminal justice system.

We welcome the news that Cheshire Probation Trust (CPT) are launching a ‘Good News Stories’ section on their website, which will showcase the positive feedback received from individuals. We include one such example below (names have been changed on request):

“I was convicted of a drink-driving offence some two years ago following alcoholism issues and relationship breakdown. My suspended sentence put me into the hands of James, Offender Manager at [Cheshire Probation Trust]. Without going into great detail, I wanted to give him recognition at a high level within your organisation for the fantastic job that he is doing. Against my expectations, I found James to have a very professional and well-rehearsed approach to helping me along through my supervision order. He is certainly very capable and experienced in reading offenders’ situations and in my case did everything in his capacity to coral various social services to assist me.

‘I have worked in IT with major corporates worldwide so I assume that I could be an unusual case – I questioned and challenged James on a couple of occasions. His ability to deal with a wide spectrum of intellect is impressive, delivered in a calm and friendly, yet assertive manner. At no time has James made me feel like a ‘bad’ criminal (I have no previous or subsequent offences) – quite the opposite. He is supportive and progressive in his approach which, again, I was not expecting. As such, could you please drop him a couple of lines via internet email to convey both my thanks and maybe your perspective on these comments. I believe he should be recognised and rewarded in kind within your organisation.”

PCA would like to hear from you with positive stories and case studies illustrating the effectiveness of probation work as we move through the transition process. If you have an example of best practice that you’d like to share with us, please email Catherine Sinclair-Jones, PCA Executive Assistant (pcaadmin@localhost ) and we’ll include these in upcoming newsletters and publish links via our Twitter page.

Giving women and girls a say

The National Council of Women (NCW) is holding a national competition asking young women aged 13-30:
If you could influence Government to take action on one issue to improve the lives of women and girls, what would it be?

Entrants must write a proposal and argument in response to this question, in 300-500 words for entrants aged 13-18 and up to 750 words for those aged 19-30. The competition is open to nationals or residents of the UK. Entries must be in English.

The winning entry will be put as a proposal to Government and could result in initiatives that will improve the lives of girls and women, both now and in the future. NCW will take the winner of the senior category of the competition to New York in March 2014 to attend the UN’s annual Commission on the Status of Women Conference. The senior age group winner will also receive an invitation to the City Women ‘Women of Achievement Awards’ in November 2013.

For more details and the competition rules visit
Follow @NCWGB on Twitter for the latest updates and use #SpeakOut to join the conversation.

Deadline for entries is 31 July 2013.

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