Dear PCA member
This pre-Christmas edition includes, in particular, news about the decision to establish an independent Probation Institute in which PCA is a lead organisation. The next phase is one of consultation with a wide variety of stakeholders, individuals as well as organisations. There is more detail below, but you can also feedback and keep an eye on developments at www.probation-institute.org
I would also like to remind members that it is not too late to register for the PCA Conference in January. An update and contact details are at item 5.
Finally, we congratulate Sue Hall, re-elected as Chair of PCA at the 29 November Council. Sue is an excellent ambassador for probation, ensuring that the senior leadership teams of probation services continue to be represented and have their voices heard.
If you would like us to mention your news in the newsletter please get in touch with Catherine Sinclair-Jones (pcaadmin@localhost).
We value your feedback. Send your comments to feedback@localhost
PCA Chief Executive
1. Sue Hall to continue as PCA Chair
2. Justice Ministers appear before Justice Select Committee to discuss TR reforms
3. Updates on Offender Rehabilitation Bill
4. Establishment of Probation Institute announced
5. PCA Conference update
6. MoJ publish Statutory Partnerships & Responsibilities paper
7.Results from the Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction Survey
8. Sentencing Council publish new Sexual Offences sentencing guideline
9. Latest British Journal of Community Justice (TR edition) now available
Sue Hall to continue as PCA Chair
The PCA on 29 November unanimously confirmed to extend Sue Hall’s tenure as Chair of PCA. We should like to take this opportunity to thank Sue for all the excellent work she has done and continues to do for PCA, particularly through this challenging time for probation leadership.
Justice Ministers appear before Justice Select Committee to discuss Transforming Rehabilitation reforms
On 4 December, Chris Grayling and Jeremy Wright appeared before the Justice Select Committee for their fourth evidence session to review the Government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme.
The Ministers were questioned on a range of issues relating to their progress with the TR reforms, with a particular focus on the staff transfer and staff split between CRCs and NPS.
Members of the Committee asked questions about the MoJ risk register and whether the risks had escalated or de-escalated since June, but the Secretary of State would not be drawn on a response, and confirmed that he will not delay the reforms until the Committee publish their assessment report of TR in January 2014.
Concerns were raised about the commissioning process, and the potential ramifications if no provider placed a satisfactory bid for a particular region. The Secretary of State told the Committee that the providers had expressed interest across all CRCs in England & Wales and pledged to publish a list of the full providers in the next few weeks.
The Ministers both assured the Committee that they were still eager to secure a national agreement on staff allocation and transfer, despite the controversial assertion by Chris Grayling that the Unions had prevented an agreement being reached on 20 December.
Updates on Offender Rehabilitation Bill
The Offender Rehabilitation Bill has passed through Committee stage, which began on 26 November and concluded on 3 December.
Lord Ramsbotham’s amendment, that would have required the probation reforms to be subject to a full parliamentary debate, was struck out. Amendments proposing that organisations under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office be disqualified from bidding, and that probation providers should be designated ‘public authorities’ subject to Freedom Of Information requests, were both rejected in Committee.
A copy of the Bill showing changes made in Committee can be viewed here.
The Bill will now pass to report stage, with the date yet to be announced.
Establishment of Probation Institute announced
The Probation Chiefs Association (PCA), Probation Association (PA), Napo and UNISON have formed a partnership to establish a new Probation Institute.
The Institute will provide professional leadership and a framework for unifying the probation workforce as a whole. A key aim is to raise the status of probation and the Institute will contribute to the setting of practice standards and support the professional development of its members, including through a voluntary professional register. It will be an independent, not-for profit organisation, with wide membership open to all staff who work in probation, commissioners, employers and partner organisations of probation.
We expect the Institute to become a centre of excellence for the probation and wider rehabilitation sector and it will support the development of evidence based practice.
The MoJ will be contributing £90k to the start up costs, along with £60k from the PCA and PA. Future funding will come from membership subscriptions.
The development of the Institute will take place in stages over the next two years. We expect it to help bridge the transition from public ownership to a wider range of provision and so will open its doors from March 2014.
More detail is available on the website www.probation-institute.org A summary of the core features is here. The website also includes a Prospectus setting out the thinking and approach behind this important initiative and inviting comment from stakeholders. The MoJ Press release is here.
PCA Conference 2014: update
PCA are pleased that there has been an excellent uptake for our annual PCA Conference on 23-24 January, with the latest Conference Programme reflecting the rich and varied range of plenary sessions and workshops across the two day event.
We are delighted to confirm that Professors Anne Worrall, Rob Canton and Paul Senior have all agreed to speak at our panel event: ‘The achievements of probation practice over the past 20 years.’
If you have not already done so, please email nominations for attendance to Catherine Sinclair-Jones: pcaadmin@localhost Places are going fast and we urge you to book now to avoid disappointment.
Ministry of Justice publish Statutory Partnerships & Responsibility paper
On 21 November, the Ministry of Justice published a paper on Statutory Partnerships & Responsibility. This paper considers the statutory partnerships and responsibilities which are relevant to Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and the National Probation Service (NPS). The paper sets out the MoJ’s initial thinking on where they think CRCs should be required to participate in the relevant statutory partnership. It also sets out the statutory partnerships and duties that the NPS will retain. Their assessment is based on:
- The cohort of offenders primarily dealt with by the partnership
- If participating would help integrate providers with other key stakeholders
- If participating is in the interests of public safety
The paper considers Community Safety Partnerships, MAPPA, Safeguarding Children Boards, Youth Offending Teams, Safeguarding Adult Boards, Victims and PPCs.
The paper is intended to be used to inform the partnership working aspect of the exit strategy for Probation Trusts and enable them to plan the allocation of resources for the statutory partnerships between the NPS and the CRC in the contract package area during the transition period once the Probation Trusts split in April 2014.
Results from the Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction study
The Ministry of Justice have now published the latest Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction (SPCR) report. The report is designed to assist those who manage released prisoners in the community by predicting the likelihood of re-offending in adult offenders in England and Wales. The cohort study is based on adult prisoners sentenced to between one month and four years in England and Wales in 2005 and 2006.
The data and evidence from the report are available to view here.
Sentencing Council publish new Sexual Offences sentencing guideline
The new Sexual Offences sentencing guideline has been published today by the Sentencing Council. The guideline will come into force in all courts in England and Wales on 1 April 2014.
The guideline covers 55 offences from rape to voyeurism and will bring about real and significant changes to the way sexual offences are sentenced by the courts.
They mark a step forward in how courts take into account the impact of sex offences on victims. As well as physical harm, the new approach will reflect more fully the psychological and longer term effects on the victim, enabling courts to take into account the true extent of what the victim has been through.
The guideline also takes an expanded approach to how courts assess offenders’ culpability, looking at the full context of offending behaviour and motivation in committing any offence, rather than the more ‘technical’ nature of the offence alone. This means giving more significant emphasis to important aspects like grooming activity by both individuals and gangs, the targeting of vulnerable victims such as those in care and offenders’ abuse of trust and positions of power or status so that these are clearly reflected in sentence levels.
The guideline provides sentencers with the full range of punishments for offenders ranging from life sentences for the most serious offending through to community-based sentences for offences of lower and medium seriousness. Courts in these instances, especially where there is little age difference between offender and victim, will be expected to consider a range of sentencing options which might best protect the public and prevent re-offending. Probation staff will need to be alert to the fact that courts may consider a community order – with suitable restrictive, punitive and rehabilitative requirements.
The full guideline is available to download from the Sentencing Council website.
Latest British Journal of Community Justice (TR edition) now available
The British Journal of Community Justice (BJCJ) released its latest volume on 11 December, which is entirely dedicated to exploring all elements of the Government’s Transforming Rehabilitation reforms.
The Editorial Board of the BJCJ have used this issue to provide a snapshot of the considered thoughts of academics, probation practitioners, ex-offenders and other commentators about the challenges posed by the TR strategy. Alongside this is a ‘letters to Grayling’ section, with four letters to the Secretary of State from current Probation professionals.
The double issue is available for a limited time only ‘open access’ online, along with a discounted hard copy, priced at £5.
Details for purchasing the hard copy can be found here (at £7 including £2 P&P).