PCA/PA comment on ‘Transforming Rehabilitation: a strategy for reform’ (9 May)

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The Probation Association and the Probation Chiefs Association, together representing the leadership of Probation Trusts in England and Wales, said:

The Government has today (May 9, 2013) announced the dismantling of Probation Trusts within its proposals to reform the rehabilitation of offenders.

Judged by both the Government’s own performance rating system and the independent benchmarking provided by British Quality Foundation, Probation Trusts are high-performing, excellent organisations.

The Government is dismantling Trusts at the very moment that it needs them most and replacing them with an untested system of nationally-let Payment by Results contracts. The reformed system will deal with 267,000 offenders but only 31,000 will be managed by the national public probation service: 88% of the work with offenders will be put to the market and current probation providers prevented from bidding.

These proposals were first announced in January and while there have been some modifications as a result of consultation responses by us and other stakeholders, the substance remains unchanged. Therefore, the substance of our fundamental concerns remain unchanged:

  • The proposals to fragment offender supervision across different organisations and sectors – with low and medium risk outsourced to other providers and high risk retained by Public Sector Probation – will increase the complexity of information exchange and fracture the continuity of offender supervision, adding substantially to the risk of public protection failures
  • The government proposals rely on national contracts which do not fit with local approaches to reducing crime and will damage relationships and the effective joint delivery of services with the police and other local partners
  • The scale and pace of reforms – over the next 18 months a new national probation service will need creating together with a complex market competition across 21 regions with large elements of new services, all to be in place by Autumn 2014. We have serious concerns that this timescale is unrealistic and will compromise public safety.

We acknowledge that the Government has put some safeguards in place in the design of the new system in an attempt to manage dynamic risk. But the Government is still splitting offender management by risk – a move we are fundamentally opposed to as experienced providers of probation services. With no clear aspiration for the levels of Payment by Results in the new contracts, the rationale for excluding Probation Trusts from bidding remains unclear.”

The full PCA submission to the Transforming Rehabilitation consultation back in February 2013 can be found here..

For all media enquiries, please call the PCA media line on 020 3657 7944

PCA responds to new sentencing guidelines on sexual offences

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The PCA have responded to the Sentencing Council’s consultation on draft new guidelines on the sentencing of sexual offences. The response has been prepared by the PCA’s Sentencing & Courts policy portfolio group, representing the leadership of Probation Trusts on decisions over sentencing policy. Continue reading here….

PCA AND PA SUBMIT THEIR JOINT RESPONSE TO TRANSFORMING JUSTICE

The PCA and PA have  submitted their joint response to the Ministry of Justice Consultation Paper on Transforming Justice.  “The Government would be taking unnecessary risks with public protection, would damage local partnerships with other essential services and be trying to do too much too soon with its proposals” said Sebert Cox, Chairman of the PA and Sue Hall, Chair of the PCA.

The Government’s proposals to reform probation services are too ambitious for the time-scale envisaged and have fundamental design problems, say the Probation Association and the Probation Chiefs Association.The joint PCA and PA statement is here. The full response is available here

PCA Response to Centre of Crime Prevention Report ‘Community Sentences are failing’

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Contrary to the Centre for Crime Prevention report, community sentences are cutting crime and preventing victims.

Community sentences outperform short-term prison sentences and are 8.3% more effective in reducing one year proven re-offending rates.

The statistics the Centre for Crime Prevention use may look dramatic but in reality they do not make a lot of sense. They show a lack of understanding of the role of sentences, prisons and probation.

You cannot compare medium to long prison tariffs with community orders as sentencing guidelines wouldn’t allow them to be interchangeable sentences.

It would also be extremely costly to the taxpayer if we sent all 240,000 people, of whom around 160,000 do not go on to re-offend, to prison for at least four years as their report suggests. A four year prison sentence would amount to £88,000, ten times the cost of a community sentence.

What the public and victims really want to see is crime stop. Community sentences tackle the causes such as drug and alcohol addiction that lead to crime, and are effective with re-offending rates falling by an equivalent of 10 per cent since 2000.

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…

Response to the Prime Minister’s Vision for the Criminal Justice System

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Probation is a critical part of the Criminal Justice System and for the Prime Minister to omit it in his vision for the CJS on 22nd October is disappointing and short-sighted. Disappointing, because dedicated probation staff work tirelessly with risky, complex and chaotic individuals to punish and reform them according to the sentences of the court; and short sighted because, at a tenth of a cost of prison, community orders have reoffending rates that are significantly lower and are declining year on year.  Probation works.

Sue Hall
Chair, Probation Chiefs Association