National Audit Office report reviews current probation landscape

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On 5 March, 2014 the National Audit Office (NAO) published Probation: a landscape review, which summarises their audit of the existing arrangements for probation and raises issues concerning the Government’s Transforming Rehabilitation reform plans to radically restructure probation service delivery.

The NAO report states that “the probation service has been performing effectively.”  It acknowledges HM Inspectorate of Probation’s findings of good standards and practice in probation trusts, and that the National Offender Management Service’s own rating system recently awarded all probation trusts with good or exceptional performance. The NAO’s audit of probation trust accounts for 2012-13 “found no material weaknesses,” and notes that re-offending rates for those serving community orders under probation has fallen from 39.9 per cent in 2003 to 34.1 per cent in the year to March 2010.

The PCA has warned that the Government’s Transforming Rehabilitation reforms, which entail abolishing probation trusts and outsourcing 80% of their work to private companies, risk the deterioration of current high levels of performance of probation services. The NAO report identifies increased risks to operational performance during the upheaval, and raises the issue over how risk would be managed in the event of market or supplier failure.

Such a dip in performance would present unacceptable risks to public safety, taxpayers’ money and the effectiveness of community rehabilitation. As the Government proceeds to implement its reforms, the PCA believes it vital for the Government to ensure all systems are fully tested and safe before ‘going live,’ and that careful consideration is given over how the quality, skills and ethos of the profession is sustained in the future.

The NAO review follows a critical examination of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme by the Justice Select Committee in its Interim Report, which is referenced and briefly discussed in this Landscape report.

On the 11th March, the Offender Rehabilitation Bill returns to the House of Lords. The Public Accounts Committee will hold an evidence session on the NAO report on the 12 March at 2pm.

For all PCA media enquiries please call 020 3657 7844

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.

BBC Newsnight raises concerns over Government’s reforms to probation

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BBC Newsnight yesterday (21 November 2013) featured in a debate on the Government’s reforms to probation, which featured PCA Chair, Sue Hall. The debate came in the context of a Newsnight investigation into Serco’s performance in delivering the Community Payback contract in London.

View the BBC Newsnight programme again on the following link, (13 minutes in)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03j8b9x/Newsnight_21_11_2013/

The PCA gave evidence to the Justice Select Committee on our views on Transforming Rehabilitation last week, and the uncorrected transcript of oral evidence can be viewed here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmjust/uc94-iii/uc9401.htm

The Offender Rehabilitation Bill has now reached the Committee stage of the House of Commons where amendments to the bill will be considered. The Public Bill Committee will sit on the 26th, 28th November and the 3rd December.

The latest notices of amendments tabled for consideration (21 November) can be viewed here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2013-2014/0088/amend/pbc0882111a.13-15.html
For a list of those MPs sitting on the committee please see here: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-14/offenderrehabilitation/committees/houseofcommonspublicbillcommitteeontheoffenderrehabilitationbillhl201314.html

For all PCA media enquiries please call 020 3657 7844

PCA Workshop: Integrated Offender Management Research and Practice

Probation Trusts are prime partners in the wide variety of IOM schemes which have been established across the country, working closely with police and other public, voluntary and private sector partners to protect the public and reduce reoffending.  Early research evaluating the effectiveness of different IOM schemes is now emerging, and promising practices which could be scaled up are being identified.

PCA Workshop: Probation Research and Practice

We would like to invite you to attend a PCA workshop on the future of probation research and practice on the 10 December in Darlington at Durham & Tees Valley Probation Trust.
The workshop would be particularly suitable for those involved in the commissioning and undertaking research projects, and implementing research findings to improve probation practice.