Government document highlights progress of Probation Trusts in improving rehabilitative services for women

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The Government has today published a document taking ‘stock of women’s services for offenders in the community, which coincides with announcements of a ‘new approach to female offenders’. The stocktake assesses the impact of an additional £3.78mn given to Probation Trusts in April 2013 specifically to enable them to enhance the provision of services they commission or deliver to promote the rehabilitation of female offenders. In its summary findings the Government concludes (p9-8)

  • “Probation Trusts have demonstrated a firm commitment to developing and improving services for female offenders in the community and to their responsibilities to female offenders arising from the equalities legislation.
  • All Probation Trusts have identifiable resources for specific services for female offenders in the community, leading to greater equality of access to specialised services for female offenders nationally.
  • Through the Trust contract and partnership arrangements, £5.8 million is being spent in total on specific services for female offenders – well above the £3.8 million additional allocation and the early estimate of the 4.3 million.
  • There is a diverse delivery landscape which reflects local need.
  • Many Probation Trusts have worked collaboratively with partners to build on and expand existing services for female offenders in the community, sharing resources and premises, potentially leading to a wider range of efficient and sustainable services. Examples include the use of children’s centres, women’s centres and community centres.
  • Probation Trusts have innovated and new services will be delivered. Examples include a new residential service in West Mercia, partnership with a social enterprise in York and provision for women serving less than 12 months in custody. There are many more examples.
  • There has been an expansion in mentoring services for female offenders consistent with the Ministry of Justice’s key priority to provide better life-management for female offenders.
  • Most Probation Trusts had robust arrangements in place for monitoring performance of services locally. Methods used to evaluate success varied but included a range of appropriate measures.
  • Probation Trusts had taken into account the findings of the Corston Report and other relevant reports to develop new services. There was a strong commitment to service improvement and to sharing best practice.
  • New Services have been located in a sentencing framework to enable report writers to provide clear sentencing options to the Judiciary.”

The Government’s document demonstrates that Probation Trusts are committed and are taking a lead at a local level to improving rehabilitative services for female offenders and are making significant improvements. The PCA have significant concerns that the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda will disrupt local level partnership work and the demonstrated progress which Probation Trusts are currently making with working with female offenders.

PCA response to Joint Inspection Report of Life Sentence Prisoners

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We welcome the joint inspection report of life sentence prisoners published today (12/09/2013) by HM Inspectorate of Prisons and HM Inspectorate of Probation. Such joint inspections will be crucial in the future to ensure that both policy thinking and service delivery joins up, so that the public are protected and those who have been rehabilitated can resettle safely and effectively in the community.

We believe the report amply demonstrates the complexities of managing offenders as they move to different phases of their sentence, and responsibility of their management changes.

This underlines the PCA’s anxieties over the Transforming Rehabilitation reform plans about fragmentation resulting from dividing the case load on risk, with management and service delivery of probation provided across the public and future contracted sectors.

The report also highlights the importance of building relationships between the probation officer and lifers prior to release from custody, improving the effective planning of continued support and rehabilitation interventions. It finds that lifers who have been released on licence appreciated the quality and commitment of support which offender managers in Probation Trusts have given them. The vast majority of life sentence prisoners are successfully integrated back into the community, with only 2.2% of those sentenced to a mandatory life sentence and 4.8% of those serving other life sentences re-offending in any way.

A key recommendation made by the report is that offender managers should be allowed to exert more influence over the release decision-making process within prisons, and to be offered further training on how to plan and deliver work in a way which engages offenders over the full licence period.

We welcome these recommendations in particular over the training of offender managers. We see the professional development of probation workers as critical in supporting improved performance and outcomes irrespective of how the services are organised in terms of employer. We support the proposal in Transforming rehabilitation to establish a Probation Institute, and the PCA are working with a wide range of stakeholders to see how best that can be brought about.

Probation committed to delivering effective community sentences and rehabilitation for women offenders

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The Government has announced new strategic objectives for female offenders in a ministerial statement today (22nd March 2013). The PCA welcomes the Government’s decision to establish an Advisory Board chaired by Helen Grant, which will have direct input from the leadership of Probation Trusts. Continue reading here…

Probation work showcases in new BBC1 documentary, 5th February

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For the first time, the probation service has opened its door to a documentary film maker, in the one-hour programme, Out of Jail and On the Streets, which airs on BBC 1 on Tuesday 5th February, 2013 at 10.35pm. The film follows the personal stories of four Surrey & Sussex probation officers. Continue reading here…

Roundup of media coverage following MoJ’s launch of the ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ consultation

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Following the Government’s launch of its Transforming Rehabilitation’ consultation document (9th January), the PCA featured in a number of media pieces. This coverage included a letter published in the Guardian and a live interview on Channel 4 news. Continue reading here…