“Well over a quarter of a million people are supervised by both youth offending and probation services each year,” quoted Dame Glenys Stacey as she welcomed delegates to her afternoon keynote on whether probation services are delivering what we want and expect. The HM Chief Inspector of Probation at the HM Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP) highlighted that many who are under probation supervision aren’t receiving the quality of services they should.
High standard youth offending and probation services can make a big difference to society reducing the prison population resulting in less people sofa surfing, sleeping or begging on the streets and fewer confused and lonely youth. Dame Glenys highlighted that men, women and children currently afraid of assault could have the opportunity of leading happier and safer lives with improved probation services which would also reduce reoffending.
However, probation services momentarily are not being delivered consistently to the standard the public expect. It would seem that according to Dame Glenys, the National Probation Service who are responsible for those assessed as high risk are delivering an acceptable standard although there are inconsistencies in the quality of work across the country.
The majority of medium and low risk individuals are to be supervised by the Community Rehabilitation Centres (CRC’s) however, they aren’t producing high quality work. The CRC’s are responsible for the Through the Gate provision, a flagship policy of government which intends to bring a step in change in rehabilitation. Dame Glenys informed delegates, that the CRC’s aren’t fully incentivised under their contract arrangements to give full priority to their work which then produces low quality work. Promised improvements in the Through the Gate resettlement such as mentors, accommodation guidance, education, training and employment for short sentence prisoners have not been delivered stated Dame Glenys.
“Staff morale, workloads and training and line management are highly variable and need to improve if probation is to improve,” quoted Dame Glenys Stacey during the keynote. Actions call for government to make a plan of how probation services are to be delivered over the next decade with CRC contracts currently set to run until late 2021. The companies strive to meet performance targets set by contracts however, Dame Glenys informed the delegates that CRC’s may produce timely sentence plans and meet contract expectations however, the plans may not be well structured or comprehensive.
To address probation services the government must focus on funding issues securing more professional staff and specialist intervention services. The HMIP alongside the support of the government are in the process of developing underpinning standards for probation services. Dame Glenys highlighted that the HMIP will work with the National Probation Service (NPS) and CRC in particular so they adopt the development of probation delivery standards by the HMIP. Inspections will be carried out on NPS and CRC divisions by the HMIP on a four point scale of: outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate. The inspections will be carried annually which will start to rebalance standards of the ways probation providers are overseen.
Dame Glenys Stacey concludes the keynote by summarising that the continuation of inspection and report whilst developing and agreeing new standards for probation will guarantee people to receive higher quality probation services benefitting not just them but society as a whole.
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