The PCA will continue to ensure that the professional views of our membership are clearly articulated, and will seek positively to influence the Government’s ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ (TR) reform programme. We have raised significant concerns with the reform agenda as planned by the Ministry of Justice and we will continue to voice our concerns and make suggestions about a more effective way forward. Our concerns include:
- The dismantling of high performing Probation Trusts to be replaced by an untested model, and the lack of opportunities for Trusts to compete on a level playing field for the new TR contracts
- The potential risks for public protection through fragmenting offender management, ongoing risk assessment and service delivery functions across different providers.
- Uncertainty over the sustainability of local partnership and specific cohort initiatives post transition
- The pace and scale of the timetable for change, the complex human resource implications and damaging effect on existing probation staff morale
- Uncertainty over the maintenance of professional standards and service quality both during and post transition
The PCA will continue to speak to the national media through a developed communication strategy, and will continue to outreach to policy makers and external stakeholders through bilateral meetings, policy briefings and the PCA’s seminar and a workshop programme. We will seek to engage constructively with the Government and policy makers to highlight apparent risks and make suggestions to improve the reform agenda. The PCA will look for opportunities to input our members’ expertise and advice to policy makers on designing specific aspects of the reforms, such as the operating model, commissioning process, and bolstering existing partnership and local level arrangements. The wholesale restructuring of probation and the ambition of the timetable for change, will inevitably present significant challenges for the leadership of Probation Trusts to manage the restructure and implement the Government’s reform agenda. The PCA will help support the leadership of Probation Trusts through the challenges of managing the TR transition process.
Looking forward, the PCA and the Probation Association, working with the unions and other partners, will take a lead in developing and promoting the establishment of a new Probation Institute, to be operational in March 2014. Such an Institute would have a wide and inclusive membership taking account of the expected emergence of a more plural market for probation and offender rehabilitation services. The Institute would draw its membership from probation workers in the public, private & voluntary sectors, and their employers, and have strong links with academia and other interested stakeholders.
We envisage that a Probation Institute would provide an independent and authoritative base for the development of the probation profession and those working in related services. We see such a body as having a role in setting professional standards and training requirements, and would maintain a voluntary register of those with a licence to practise. It would also develop an evidence base, and promote innovation and effective practice. This would sit alongside roles in facilitating networking opportunities and providing a source of policy expertise on probation and related criminal justice organisation and practice.