Translating Practice into Policy: the Value of Practitioner led Research The Griffins Society Model

We would like to invite you to a workshop debating practitioner-led research, through the prism of research into effective treatment of females within the justice system.

The workshop will examine the value, challenges and opportunities for practitioner led research to influence practice and policy, using past and present Griffins Society sponsored research as an illustration. For over ten years the Griffins Society has been funding research by practitioners who seek to bring about change in the treatment of women and girls who offend and those at risk of offending. Keynote speakers will also include Prof. Carol Hedderman, University of Leicester.

PCA comment on MoJ Transforming Rehabilitation press release: 19 September

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Today (19 September 2013), the Government has given a formal notice over a forthcoming competition on the sale of 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies and linked contracts to provide probation services for those offenders assessed as a ‘low-medium’ risk of causing harm to the public.

Also today the Government has issued directions to Probation Trusts to begin a formal 28 day period of consultation on a staff transfer process outlining the suggested principles and terms of splitting resources and cases to establish Community Rehabilitation Companies and the new National Probation Service.

This marks a step change in the Government pushing forward with plans to implement the Transforming Rehabilitation programme announced in May 2013. The PCA have voiced significant concerns with these plans particularly over risks to public protection from splitting the management of offenders over public and contracted sectors, and the high risks of losing professional expertise and successful local partnership initiatives during and after the transition.

Despite the PCA’s very considerable misgivings – which are shared by very many other organisations – the Secretary of State for Justice has been unwavering in his intention to go ahead with these changes. The PCA believes that the priority now is to ensure that the transition to the new organisations, the National Probation Service and the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies, should be done in as safe a way as possible.  This should be about securing an effective and well managed transfer of the probation caseload on 1 April 2014, the date planned for these new arrangements to come into effect following the abolition of the current probation trusts.

We have consistently argued that the time frame for these changes is impractical and unrealistic.  We do not think that the transfer should be dictated by the time scale, but by an objective assessment of the conditions needed for a safe transfer putting first the safety and protection of the public.

The transition to these new organisations will be very complex, entailing splits in staff, resources and caseloads, and the development of new protocols for working across the public and contracted sectors (with support from ICT systems). This all would need to be in place, fully tested and staff trained, before Community Rehabilitation Companies and the National Probation Service should be allowed to ‘go live’.

As the Government looks to begin implementation of its plans, the PCA believe it imperative for the Programme meaningfully to engage and draw on the expertise of the leadership and professionals of Probation Trusts, in particular to develop objective ways of assuring that changes can be carried out safely.

In all this it is extremely important to maintain the support of all staff.  We welcome the assurances for continuing dialogue and consultation. That needs to be meaningful, with the changes and plans fully articulated and other information needed, so that staff can make informed comments and choices about their future.

The Ministry of Justice has also published today ‘Transforming Rehabilitation: a summary of evidence on reoffending” providing an overview of key evidence relating to reducing reoffending. The PCA welcomes that this report clearly acknowledges that “the skills of practitioners in supervising offenders and delivering interventions are known to contribute to reducing reoffending and also to improving other outcomes” (section 3).

All this underlines the case for establishing an independent Probation Institute, to promote professional skills and standards in a more plural probation service delivery market. The PCA, with the Probation Association, the Ministry of Justice and other key stakeholders is working to bring about the creation of such an Institute.

International Women’s Day; Probation working with partners to address the distinct needs of women offenders

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To mark International Women’s Day 2013 (8th March), the PCA would like to celebrate the efforts of Probation Trusts and other criminal justice sector partners in their work with women offenders.

Evidence shows that a gender informed approach is more effective in reducing the female prison population, reoffending and the number of women and girls entering the Criminal Justice System. To this end and at a local level, Probation Trusts in England & Wales have worked in a variety of ways to support and compliment Women’s Community Services. Many Probation Trusts are now working in partnership with statutory and voluntary partners to develop new and bespoke projects to support women using their expertise and knowledge to help shape the future of women’s services in an outcome focused environment.

Liz Rijnenberg, PCA lead on womens offenders and CEO of Wiltshire Probation Trust, in her leadership blog looks at current efforts of criminal justice sector providers to offer women offenders a distinct solution;  http://localhost/2013/01/03/women-offenders-a-distinct-group-who-need-a-distinct-solution/

In our recent case-study series, we covered the story of Rachel, a ‘low-risk’ woman offender managed by the public Probation Service; http://localhost/2013/01/23/case-study-probations-management-of-a-breach-of-sentence-for-a-low-risk-offender/

The PCA has also recently submitted evidence to the Parliamentary Justice select committee’s ongoing inquiry into women offenders; http://localhost/2012/10/22/justice-select-committee-inquiry-into-women-offenders/

Snapshot of Probation Services in England & Wales –2012

  • There are 35 Probation Trusts in England & Wales. Each Trust has responsibility for the management of offenders and ex-offenders serving intervention programmes and sentences in the community, and giving pre-sentencing advice to courts.
  • As of the last count in June 2012, Probation Trusts were managing a combined total caseload of 230,736. Of this total, 120,323 cases were serving court orders, and 111,735 were being managed pre/post release1.
  • The total budget devolved to the 35 Probation Trusts was £820m in 2011/12. It has been steadily reducing from a high of £914m in 2008/9. The average cost per offender supervised on license post-custody was £2380, and the average cost per offender supervised on a community order/suspended sentence was £4135. The average cost of Probation Trusts producing a pre-sentence report was £2152
  • As of the 30th September 2012, there was a total of 16,710 full time staff and management employed by Probation Trusts. 89.3% of these were working in an offender related function (approx 45% in community supervision, 13% accredited programmes and 9% unpaid supervision, 6% approved premises, 3% pre-sentence court advice, 2% resettlement teams). The remaining 10% of staff work in corporate services3.
  • Reconviction rates for those on Community Orders or suspended sentence orders managed by probation have continued to fall steadily across England and Wales. The proven reoffending rate for the 2010 cohort stands at 34.1%, down 0.3% compared to the previous 12 months and down 3.7& since 20004.
  • Britain’s Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements are recognised and respected internationally for their effective management of high risk offenders. Through probation working under Multi-agency Public Protection Arrangements with the Police and Prisons (MAPPA), only 1% of offenders managed by MAPPA commit a serious further offence.5
  1. MoJ Offender Management Statistics Quarterly Bulletin (Apr-June 2012) http://www.justice.gov.uk/statistics/prisons-and-probation/oms-quarterly
  2. MoJ Probation Trusts Unit Costs 2011-12http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/statistics/prison-probation/probation-workforce-stats/probation-trust-unit-costs-tables-11-12.pdf
  3. MoJ Probation service workforce information summary report; quarterly 2 2012-13http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/statistics/prison-probation/probation-workforce-stats/probation-workforce-report-q2-2012-13-staff.pdf
  4. MoJ Proven re-offending quarterly, Jan-Dec 2010http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/statistics/reoffending/proven-reoffending-jan10-dec10.pdf
  5. MoJ Multi-agency public protection arrangements annual reporthttp://www.justice.gov.uk/statistics/prisons-and-probation/mappa

Health & Wellbeing Boards and offender health needs

Some questions that this forum may wish to consider:
– How should Probation Trusts engage with HWBs to best ensure that the needs of offenders and ex-offenders are factored into  thesetting of local health and wellbeing priorites?

-What practical actions will HWBs be able to take to strategically prioritise the allocation of accessible services towards offenders in the community?
-How should HWBs assess/measure the impact of their actions in terms of both reducing health inequalities and making the local community safer?
-What data should PTs feed in to HWBs when they develop their Local JSNAs?
-How are partnerships and HWBs being structured in your local area?

Please feel free to enter this forum and post your opinions.

Public Enemies, BBC1 Drama – the Probation Chiefs’ Verdict

As drama and entertainment, BBC 1’s Public Enemies is gripping stuff. It also focuses public attention on Probation and about what happens when offenders are supervised in the community, either on community orders or on licence after serving a prison sentence – The Probation Chiefs Association welcomes this.

While a drama would not be expected to reflect accurately the day to day work of probation, it does bring out many of the themes that face probation staff daily. Striking the balance between restrictive requirements and the more “constructive interventions” sometimes referred to in the film is correctly and sensitively portrayed.  In terms of the fictional Probation officer/offender relationship, viewers will no doubt find the suggestion of the ‘up close and personal’ chemistry compelling. It is far removed from reality. What is true and backed by solid research evidence is that the professional Probation Officer/offender relationship is a key factor in successfully reducing reoffending.

The media attention in the past ….