The Chief Inspector of Probation, Dame Glenys Stacey, has released her final annual report. The report states that the current model for the delivery of probation services in England and Wales is irredeemably flawed, and requires a major rethink in order to create a system which is fit for the future. The report highlights that:
- Both the public-sector National Probation Service (NPS) and privately-owned community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) are failing to meet some of their performance targets. The NPS is performing better overall, whereas eight out of 10 CRCs inspected this year received the lower rating of 'inadequate' for the implementation and deliver of probation supervision.
- The probation profession has been diminished. There is a national shortage of qualified probation professionals and too much reliance on unqualified or agency staff.
- In the day-to-day work of probation professionals there has been a drift away from practice informed by evidence. The critical relationship between the individual and their probation worker is not sufficiently protected in the current probation model.
Dame Glenys Stacy emphasises that a future model for probation services needs to ensure more consistent and effective supervision, to reduce reoffending as far as possible and keep the public safe. She calls for:
- Probation services to be evidence based. Work to reduce reoffending should draw on research and evidence, new initiatives should be evaluated and the results added to the evidence base.
- Probation services that meet both the needs of victims and the individuals under supervision. Probation work should be of the right quality whoever is providing it.
- An integrated and professional service. The probation service should have enough qualified professionals with access to the right facilities, services and information (and, where necessary, protections) to enable them to do their jobs well.
- A probation service able to command the confidence of the judiciary, victims, professional staff and the wider public.
In response to the release of the report, MA National Chair John Bache spoke about community sentences on Radio 4's Today Programme (47 minutes in) on the 28 March.