The role of the Probation Service - Justice Committee Contents

4  Working with courts and other local partners

Relationships with courts

115.  The Offender Management Act 2007 retains services to courts as a function of probation trusts or other public sector bodies, reflecting the reliance that sentencers have on the impartial advice given to them by the service. In 2001 the requirement for magistrates' courts committees to hold regular liaison meetings with their local probation service ended. In most areas, however, relationships continued as it was recognised that dialogue was necessary and usually positive. Northumbria Magistrates outlined the benefits: "The NPT (Northumbria Probation Trust) has a well deserved excellent reputation with the courts. Liaison arrangements have been consistently strong over many years and were sustained during the period during which such arrangements were no longer required as mandatory. This is because they have always added value to the work of magistrates and district judges."[146]

116.  It was eventually acknowledged that ending this formal relationship had been a mistake. In 2008 Lord Justice Leveson, then the Presiding Judge, issued, in conjunction with NOMS, a binding set of guidelines for magistrates and judges as an appendix to probation circular 06/2009, Determining Pre-Sentence Report type. It set out the levels and frequency of liaison meetings between the probation service, magistrates' courts and crown courts and what they are meant to achieve. Importantly, it raised the issue of probation resources being finite—although it states that this should not constrain sentencers.

117.  There were few probation areas in 2008 where liaison did not take place but there were some who needed this guidance to re-start relations. In most trust areas the probation service has a positive relationship with its courts. The Birmingham judges said in their submission: "In Birmingham we maintain close liaison with the probation service, principally via the senior officer based at the Crown Court. Such liaison is essential for effective use of community sentence requirements. The presence of a team of probation officers at the Crown Court is a vital part of that process."[147] And Northumbria Magistrates commented: "Confidence levels amongst the judiciary remain high but are not taken for granted with annual feedback being sought to ensure that service delivery to the courts remains high."[148]

118.  Liaison focuses on keeping sentencers abreast of developments and is also the vehicle for the service to explain why it has to try to manage the demand for its work. In Brighton we heard how the Chief Executive of the Surrey and Sussex Probation Trust had approached this: "Last year, we reduced the occurrence of community orders imposed by our local courts by 8%, and we continue to bear down on demand, in an appropriate way though, because the approach that we've taken with our local sentencers is to say to them that there may be occasions where other disposals are more appropriate for the lower-end offender than a community order."[149] There are also examples of where the courts and probation services work together to publicise their work, for example using the Local Crime Community Sentence project to improve public confidence in sentencing and to raise awareness of the effectiveness of community sentences and the work of probation staff. These are joint presentations to a wide range of community groups in a locality.[150]


119.  Sentencers have expressed some frustration about reducing levels of resources. For example, the judges at Birmingham Crown Court explained: "In Birmingham judges are in a position to utilise a wide range of activity and programme requirements [...] The range of programmes and activities theoretically available is far wider than it was 10 (or even 5) years ago. We say "theoretically" because there is often a long waiting time for offenders to take their place on any given programme […] More fundamental in our view is the need to fund and resource interventionist programmes adequately. We do all that we can to avoid the short custodial sentence i.e. a sentence of less than 12 months. For that to be possible we need to have a full range of alternative disposals available at the time of sentencing. We recognise also that crimes driven by drug or substance abuse often can be met best with a sentence designed to tackle the underlying cause of the offence. Again that requires proper funding of such sentences."[151]

120.  We heard from the Probation Chiefs' Association and Napo that savings have been made over the previous two financial years that have not had an impact on front-line service delivery.[152] The management ratio overall has come down, as have the back-office costs. Where possible trusts that did not merge share costs. However, this year savings were also being made in front-line posts. Napo gave examples from trusts of the volume of losses in PO and PSO posts, mainly through voluntary redundancy or retirement.[153] According to the Probation Chiefs' Association cuts further down the line were also having an impact, for example, NOMS has not extended funding for the six intensive alternative-to-custody (IAC) projects that had been running for two years.[154] The trusts involved are trying to maintain the work but at a lower level by prioritising this over services for lower risk offenders. They also reported information from trusts where partner agencies had cut their contribution to work with offenders due to their own need to make savings.[155] Napo reported that prisons that still had probation officers in their offender management units until recently were ending their secondments; this had become a management problem for the probation trusts who had to take them back and will also have a negative impact on delivering offender management in prison.[156]

121.  Over the last five years or more trusts have made a considerable success of managing sickness absence policies nationally. In evidence it was mentioned by both unions and chief executives as a positive move.[157] Procedures include a mixture of tight reporting requirements coupled with employee care measures. Matthew Lay from UNISON gave example of how this had been improved: "Members who are at work suffer when people are not at work and vice versa. We had a constructive engagement. That has delivered some returns and has contributed to the reduced absence. We have also focused on well­being in work and ensuring that people are respected."[158]

122.  A further impact upon resources and workload has been the significant reduction in standard or full pre-sentence reports and the increase in fast delivery or oral reports to 70% of all reports. Whilst this has made a significant saving, the funds were taken out of probation area budgets in 2009 in accordance with the calculations from the Specification, Benchmarking and Costs programme. The Magistrates' Association was concerned about the probation service's ability to deliver reports as intended because of cuts in court duty staff:

Reports are now rarely provided on the day, but within a few days. This is preferable to the original three week delays that were the norm not many years ago but experience around the country would suggest that the momentum for speedy delivery of justice is being lost because of financial imperatives. 'Fast delivery reports' as originally envisaged are not working and it is feared that the time to produce fast delivery reports may lengthen even further due to the numbers being requested and as probation is forced by budgetary cuts to reduce its staff numbers.[159]


123.  The level of resources available and the workloads borne by staff are inextricably linked. We asked a number of witnesses how high workloads are for frontline probation staff and what level ought they to be set at. No one answered this question directly. Barrie Crook from the Probation Chiefs' Association gave an example of how trusts try to respond flexibly: "I think it is very difficult to answer the question in quite that form because you may be aware that the probation service grades the level of risk of different offenders in four tiers. Most probation trusts don't work on the notion of an average case load. They try to allocate a level of time and capacity according to each case."[160] Matthew Lay from UNISON commented that the probation service does not have complete control over how much work it gets: "… a trust does not suddenly get any more money to employ more staff if there is a surge. They have to manage it. The complexities of that make it inordinately difficult to manage demand and ensure that you are supplying the right number of staff to do that. Most areas will try and do that using their own management tools effectively to do that. As I say, some trusts do it well and some less well."[161] Inspectorate reports from the Offender Management Inspection programme indicate that levels vary widely from trust to trust. The national workload has risen, as have staffing levels, though not to the same proportion.

124.  Trusts have recognised that keeping workloads to a manageable level is in everyone's interest due to the potential for harm when things go wrong. We heard nothing to suggest there is a formula that says that a workload of one size will support good quality practice while another will automatically lead to poor practice. Skilled offender managers will do good work regardless, although they may need to prioritise their efforts so that not all of their cases meet their preferred standard. They may need to be able to defend why they done so if things go wrong. However, a Channel 4 survey of 20 probation trust chief executives in August 2010 found that three-quarters of respondents believed that probation did not have the capacity to keep up with current levels of offenders entering the system and over half felt that their capacity to manage offenders effectively in the community was average (9) or poor (2), citing that budgetary constraints meant they may only be able to offer a basic service. While all trusts stated that they were then able to offer the required levels of public protection most (16) or all (4) of the time, half believed that a 10% or more cut in their budgets would result in them being able to provide this only some of the time.[162]

125.  John Thornhill of the Magistrates' Association took a pragmatic view: "We accept, again, there are limited resources, but we need to look at how we harness those resources in the most productive way."[163] The Birmingham Crown Court judges made a separate point about transparency: "[t]he problem often facing the sentencing judge is a lack of information as to when the person to be sentenced will be able to undertake the recommended programme";[164] knowing when an offender would start an accredited programme was an important consideration in sentencing.

126.  The balancing act of working within budgets and providing what sentencers require is a difficult one for trusts. Hertfordshire Probation Trust explained how this impacts on its work: "One of the most significant challenges under the current commissioning model, is that while the Director of Offender Management (DOM) can commission and set volume targets for the trust to deliver, the demand is in fact determined by sentencers who are independent and do not have to take account of the resource implications. A good example is unpaid work (community payback). For 2010-11 [the trust] has been commissioned to deliver 800 unpaid work orders […] In 2009-10 the area completed 932 unpaid work orders against a target of 800. The demand from courts is clearly outstripping the commissioned capacity."[165] It is not how such work would be completed by providers from the private or voluntary sectors if it is not stipulated in their contracts.

127.  We heard how Sussex and Surrey Probation Trust and key partners were managing their budget through managing the demands of sentencers.[166] In 2010, they reduced the number of community orders imposed by local courts by 8%, for example, through liaison with courts and discussion about the merits of other disposals including curfews for offenders posing a low risk of harm. They have also introduced two senior adult attendance centres to deal with younger adult offenders where a brief intervention may be more appropriate.[167] An individual magistrate complained to us about the effects of demand management where the bench was using sentencing guidelines and wanted to impose an unpaid work requirement but were initially told by the probation court duty officer that it did not meet their internal guidelines. This demonstrates the need for effective liaison and communication.[168] Northumbria Magistrates were able to give an example of how good liaison can take account of that problem: "In a context of finite resources the well-established liaison arrangements between NPT and the courts have ensured that NPT has generally been in a position to provide an appropriate range of options to meet the courts' needs. Magistrates appreciate that due to financial constraints the NPT is currently unable to provide the full range of services to offenders living in the remote rural areas of Northumberland."[169]

128.  Our predecessor Committee's Report, Cutting crime: the case for justice reinvestment stated that: "There remain wide disparities in the use and availability of requirements that can be attached to community orders. The National Audit Office (NAO) found that many of the 12 sentence requirements available to the courts are not available in certain areas and offenders often do not receive vital requirements if they are not available locally. Potentially rehabilitative requirements such as alcohol treatment and mental health treatment in particular are under-used in relation to offenders' needs."[170]

129.  In evidence to this inquiry we found no evidence of progress. The Magistrates' Association said that "services are provided professionally, but their provision is piecemeal at best—which means that good practice does not necessarily roll out from area to area and region to region. Specialist programmes for drug-users, alcohol abusers and the mentally disordered are particularly patchy."[171] The provision of these services is not the responsibility of the probation service but of health services. Where substance misuse requirements are available, trusts have developed them as part of their activity as Drug and Alcohol Team commissioners.

130.  Half of all community orders starting in 2010 had just one requirement and a further 35% had two requirements. The proportions for each number of requirements have remained stable throughout the last five quarters. Among the different combinations of requirements, stand alone unpaid work continued to be the most prevalent, accounting for almost a third of community orders and 22% of all suspended sentence orders starting in the first quarter of 2010. In the same period, unpaid work and supervision were the most used requirements for community orders and suspended sentence orders. These two requirements accounted for roughly two-thirds of all requirements attached to orders.[172]

131.  It is unacceptable that sentencers' hands are tied by the unavailability of important requirements which the probation service cannot provide because of inadequate resources. We are aware that in the current climate, demands for more funding are not realistic. However, the fundamental necessity of giving sentencers all the options they should have at their disposal makes very clear the urgent need to focus scarce resources on the front-line and to continue to bear down on inefficiencies and any unnecessary back-room functions.

132.  Northumbrian magistrates told us that their low use of custody was a mark of confidence in the local probation trust: "Northumbrian courts are amongst the lowest users of custodial sentences in England and Wales. There is little doubt that this is linked directly to the reputation of NPT for providing community sentences of high quality which are managed in a robust and professional manner."[173]

133.  We heard concerns about the staffing levels in court which have reduced significantly over the years as the probation officer role has moved away from 'the officer of the court'. This is not the case in all courts, as we heard from the Magistrates' Association, who told us that: "Probation staff can hear the reasons for the pre-sentencing report (PSR) which may not always be apparent in the documentation. [They] can be questioned about offenders' previous response to community orders; something that is not always demonstrated on an offenders' record, which itself is often not up to date. [They] can give an update on the effectiveness and/or progress of a current order."[174] John Thornhill, the Chair of the Association, also suggested consideration of using video links in the court building to get quicker access to fast delivery reports on the same day where probation staff are based some way away and would otherwise require an adjournment.[175]

134.  Judges and magistrates need to have confidence in the way in which the probation service relates to and provides information to the court. Sentencers should be given accurate information at the time of sentencing about when a community order and any requirements will commence.

Working with local partners

Local joint commissioning arrangements

135.  The probation service has a long history of working in partnership with other agencies, either to develop services specifically for offenders or to develop services for the general population and from which offenders will also benefit. The factors underlying the offending of individuals can be complex and are usually interdependent. For example, an offender may have a requirement in an order or licence to undertake an accredited programme; if they become homeless or are subjected to domestic abuse or experience mental health problems, these will preoccupy them and will need to be addressed before offending behaviour work can be effective. The probation service tends to deal directly with the attitudes, thinking and behaviour related directly to offending but must commission or negotiate for access to services to address the underlying factors linked to offending.

136.  Formal arrangements have been introduced since the 1990s across England and Wales that have broadened the remit of other agencies to include some responsibilities towards offenders. Clinks gave us examples: "The role of the VCS in delivering services to offenders and their families should be seen in the context of two key developments in the early 2000s. The first of these was the Supporting People programme which, inter alia, required the probation service to transfer to local authorities the funding allocated to offender accommodation, much of which was spent on voluntary sector provision. The second was the establishment of the Offender Learning and Skills Service, which again required probation areas to move funding for employment, training, and education provision to the Learning and Skills Service. This removed the contracting arrangements from the probation service and transferred them to the LSC [Learning and Skills Council]." The Drug (and Alcohol) Action Teams pre-dated these; probation are commissioners with other statutory agencies and usually work in partnership with voluntary agencies to deliver services.[176]

137.  In recent years, commissioning activity to reduce re-offending had been further embedded in the work of a range of local partnerships (and their component agencies), including: local strategic partnerships (LSPs), community safety partnerships (CSPs) in England and Wales, multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA), Child Safeguarding Boards and local criminal justice boards (LCJBs). LSPs and LCJBs were abolished by the government in April 2011, although probation's role in community safety partnerships was cemented by the Policing and Crime Act 2009 which made the trusts a 'Responsible Authority' sharing responsibility with other agencies for local targets to cut offending.

138.  Probation is the local lead provider in offender management that engages with these arrangements; it sits as an equal partner at the various partnership tables, though without the financial influence of other agencies. West Yorkshire, for instance, is one of the largest probation trusts and has an annual budget in 2011-12 of around £40 million; this is tiny in comparison with other public services.[177] Councillor Khan, representing the Local Government Association, told us how probation senior managers sit at the local commissioning table as equal partners with agencies that have much greater financial power e.g., the primary care trust, police and local authority.[178] In return probation help other agencies to identify and respond to the distinctive needs of some of some of the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach people they should be serving e.g. through the DATs.

139.  Although local area agreements are no longer in operation, we received evidence about a number of successful examples of what had been achieved under these arrangements.[179] Witnesses did not suggest that ending the LAA had created problems; it had been a useful framework for bringing agencies together and they would continue to do work collegiately. Local authorities now had more discretion about where to invest their resources. Sonia Crozier, the Chief Executive of the Surrey and Sussex Probation Trust, and Linda Beanlands, of Brighton and Hove City Council, explained: "So yes, it was over-engineered, but it did serve a purpose's also given us a very strong foundation now in terms of that collective responsibility to reduce reoffending, but now we have greater freedom to determine exactly how we do that and where we prioritise."[180]

140.  As an example of how this works in practice, Leicestershire and Rutland Probation Trust illustrated how it had been successful in generating resources:

We work with a social enterprise to deliver a Learning Café to improve offenders' skills in the catering trades. We also work with charities providing housing related support and with a range of organisations including voluntary and private sector bodies, and social enterprises which provide supervision or placements for offenders on community payback. We are developing our supply chain of local voluntary sector organisations which can bring specific skills to bear to assist with the delivery of probation services. We have been particularly grateful for the role that the private sector has played through Leicestershire Cares [an offshoot of Business in the Community] which has provided work placements for offenders, the majority of whom have subsequently gone on into full-time employment.[181]

141.  Where there are no funds to commission services directly the probation service has to try to persuade mainstream agencies to provide them. Whilst we heard of some positive examples of local health services engaging with the probation service, there was evidence from several witnesses that referred to alcohol misuse and mental health treatment as hardest to access.[182] For example, the Howard League cited a report which found that probation caseloads have high levels of alcohol-related need but 40% of alcohol-related interventions had not commenced four to six months after supervision had begun. During 2007-08 only 8% of dependent drinkers received an alcohol treatment requirement and only one in four alcohol treatment requirements were delivered in line with existing guidance."[183]

142.  The Probation Chiefs' Association highlighted the highly developed relationships that exist between trusts and local magistrates and judges, and with local strategic partners, including local authorities.[184] Some trusts gave examples of the high level of local influence that they have within local strategic partnerships, but highlighted that the nature of their accountability to NOMS constrained their ability to contribute, financially and strategically.[185] Probation trusts are small organisations that typically "punch above their weight" through the involvement of senior managers in the various local partnerships. Nevertheless, they can experience difficulties in keeping abreast of all local partnerships as a result of their size and geographical configuration. The Local Government Association stated that while trusts work effectively in many areas, they struggle on existing resources to engage with local partners; a survey of LGA members revealed patchy engagement with probation in CSPs.[186] They have particular difficulties in engaging effectively at district council level; in some counties there are up to fourteen CDRPs/CSPs.

143.  On the other hand, since 2010, trusts have been divided into Local Delivery Units which offer a better means of engagement with local partners. Councillor Khan told us that the LDUs in West Yorkshire were coterminous with the five large conurbations which meant that at local authority level it was possible to forge closer links between the borough commander for the police, the primary care trust, the local authority, probation and other partners.[187] This is less easy to achieve in large rural areas.

144.  Probation trusts understand their areas and must organise to make best use of their resources. John Long from Avon and Somerset Police Crime said to us: "Crime is essentially a locally based activity; let us deal with it locally, and so on. I am absolutely in line with that."[188]

145.  Probation trusts often punch above their financial weight in local partnership work, but such engagement with other agencies is not uniform and probation trusts and local strategic partners have expressed frustration about trusts' ability to participate effectively because of national contractual obligations. Probation work will only be effective if it can draw upon and work with other service providers; NOMS and the MoJ must review those contractual obligations which are a barrier to good partnership working and look to remove those barriers wherever possible.


146.  One of the achievements of the community safety partnerships in most areas is the creation of effective Prolific and Priority Offender (PPO) Schemes which work with those offenders committing the highest volumes of crime. Recognising the harm—albeit not necessarily serious harm from violence—caused by this relatively small group of offenders, criminal justice agencies are expected to deliver a 'premium' service to them to achieve deterrence, conviction or rehabilitation, and to prevent new people from entering the pool of prolific offenders. A high proportion of these individuals are problematic drug users committing a high volume of acquisitive crime to support their dependency, typically for shoplifting and burglary or loitering for the purposes of prostitution.

147.  Local authorities, police, probation, the prison service and voluntary agencies work together in these schemes. We heard that current cuts in public service funding are likely to have a negative impact on their ability to do that.[189] Linda Beanlands from Brighton and Hove Council told us: "what we have seen in recent months, when the local authority and all its partners have had to sustain cuts, is a real commitment to taking on each others' issues, to taking on shared priorities. In fact, if we just look at the community safety partnership pooled budget, which is perhaps a small example but a very important one, we had to find a cut in the overall services that we commission from that, and the PPO project was one of those."[190] The project survives but with some cuts. The Probation Chiefs' Association made a similar point.[191] In a number of areas the prison service is an active partner in the scheme. However, it is difficult for prisons to get involved in the schemes if offenders are not located in local prisons.

148.  Integrated Offender Management Schemes (IOMs) have been piloted in several areas to work with those aged 21 and over released from prison sentences of under twelve months in addition to those on statutory licence or orders. Where they exist they take responsibility for PPOs, as many of them continually appear before courts and get short prison sentences. Intensive Alternative to Custody (IAC) schemes take a similar approach and will supervise PPOs in the community. The IOM deals with offenders serving short prison sentences who are not subject to statutory supervision. The IAC is offered to courts as a requirement in a community order as an alternative to custody so is enforceable.

149.  We heard evidence from John Quick, Assistant Chief Officer from Merseyside Probation Trust, that the IAC in Liverpool was achieving significant results in terms of compliance. During 'normal' levels of supervision, compliance rates amongst this group of offenders who have been in and out of prison are around 40% successful completion; in Liverpool compliance was running at 67%. He attributed this to the successful engagement of offender managers and other agencies, and an ability to devote significant time to these individuals.[192] Avon and Somerset Criminal Justice Board submitted evidence about their IOM scheme: "Avon and Somerset have been one of the pilot areas for Integrated Offender Management (IOM) and have developed a cost neutral, fully integrated model for delivery of this initiative, increasingly seen as a good practice model for other areas."[193] A recent evaluation of the Diamond Initiative in London had mixed results about the impact of the scheme on re-offending; the evaluation is cautious and some results are said to be disappointing, reflecting the challenges of this work and the complexities of evaluation.[194]

150.  The Local Government Association (LGA) highlighted a National Audit Office (NAO) report which noted that that short-sentence prisoners have on average 16 previous convictions, and around 60% are convicted of at least once offence in the year after they are released. This re-offending has a significant cost: in 2007-08 the NAO estimated re-offending by recent ex-offenders cost between £9.5 billion and £13 billion. Effective management of ex-offenders is therefore vital in the LGA's view in reducing crime and making communities safer.[195]

151.  These partnership initiatives also show considerable potential to reduce the costs of re-offending to society and to the local agencies involved. The Local Government Association explained:

The Total Place pilots showed the costs and processes associated with 'silo' delivery of re-offending services and the savings that could result from a true partnership approach. For example, the Bradford Total Place pilot found that offenders currently have between 5-10 separate assessments conducted by a range of agencies as they move in and out of prison, and these could be reduced to one, with resulting savings in budgets. The LGA therefore believes it is particularly important for local public service budgets to be pooled which would improve the quality of service and reduce costs. The LGA has developed a model to achieve this through place-based budgets.[196]

152.  Councillor Khan agreed with John Thornhill about the merits of intervening early and preferring to invest 'upstream' in early intervention to prevent imprisonment as a less expensive option.[197] Positive examples of investing upstream already exist, for example, in some areas women who agree to attend an assessment at a women's centre can do this as an alternative to a fixed penalty, caution or charge. Offenders serving short prison sentences who do not get support are the most likely to re-offend thereby creating more victims and damage to communities 'downstream'.[198] John Long, Assistant Chief Constable in Avon and Somerset, explained how expensive policing was and argued that early investment reduces costs and creates a better environment for potential victims.[199] All of the trusts submitting evidence were positive that working in partnership was the most cost-effective and beneficial way to meet offender needs that were outside of the scope of the probation service alone to provide and the evidence we received made it clear that police and local authorities support this approach.

153.  We heard about an interesting example of an Intensive Offender Management programme when we visited Brighton and Hove. The scheme has built on a positive working relationship between the probation and prison services at the local prison HMP Lewes. Probation staff already have a high level of access to prisoners. In addition, they work with prison staff to identify children and families of prisoners who need assistance from them and Children's Social Care Services. In custody the prison IOM contribution includes access for prisoners to drugs and alcohol services, the Benefits Agency and the Preventing Offender Accommodation Loss project. This is a joint venture between probation, HMP Lewes and Brighton and Hove Council to prevent tenancy loss where possible or support in finding accommodation on release if not. The probation trust has invested in two prison officer posts during 2010-11 to engage with prisoners who fit the IOM profile from reception into the prison. The prisoners are encouraged to sign up for voluntary contact with the project for twelve months from release. These prison officers follow them out "through the gate" and work with them on the scheme in their home locality.[200] There is a similar approach in the Bristol IOM scheme where there are three dedicated prison officers who work with prisoners and agencies on their behalf both pre- and post-release.[201]

154.  Some trusts gave us examples of the wider application of IOM. Avon and Somerset Probation Trust believed that IOM should become the building block for commissioning offender services, and suggested that it is also applicable to those offenders presenting the most serious risk of harm.[202] Leicestershire and Rutland Probation Trust has extended the principles of IOM to drug and alcohol misusing offenders from the point of arrest.[203]

155.  We are concerned that there is a lack of consistency of provision for those offenders for whom probation services do not have a statutory obligation to provide services, but who nevertheless present a significant burden on the system. We welcome the Government's proposals to extend the use of intensive offender management. The Ministry of Justice should collate evidence on the cost-effectiveness of schemes that are currently operating across England and Wales with a view to publishing good practice guidelines. These should be used to encourage those areas where there is not currently a scheme but where the scale of persistent offending may justify the investment. There is also significant potential to extend the IOM model to other groups of offenders.

156.  There is promising evidence that the new requirements that have been placed on local strategic partners to reduce re-offending are beginning to bear fruit in stronger local partnership arrangements, and in achieving efficiencies, but these have not yet had sufficient opportunity to bed in. Nevertheless, they provide a good foundation for the introduction of local incentive models as a mechanism of payment by results.

The role of the probation service in public protection

157.  The probation service is heavily involved in statutory public protection arrangements; in partnership with the police—and sometimes the prison service—it commits funding and senior and middle manager time to the development and running of the local and central Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) panels. MAPPA are the statutory arrangements for managing all sexual and some violent offenders. MAPPA is not a statutory body in itself but is a mechanism through which the police, prison and probation services can better discharge their statutory responsibilities and protect the public in a co-ordinated manner with co-operation from other statutory agencies, including local authorities, health, housing authorities and education authorities.

158.  Leicestershire and Rutland Probation Trust gave examples of the complexity of services working together under MAPPA:

In particular we prioritise interventions for sex offenders, those convicted of domestic violence and the mentally ill. We accommodate many of these offenders initially in our own approved premises (hostels) where they can be closely supervised and then work with local authorities to ensure they are accommodated appropriately subsequently. We have our own psychology service which is able to assess and treat some of the most complex cases, and floating housing support to ensure close support for those in their own tenancies in conjunction with the Supporting People programme.[204]

The Government has signalled its intention of retaining MAPPA in its green paper Breaking the Cycle.

159.  The probation service underpins its work with offenders who pose a risk of harm to the public through the accredited programmes referred to earlier. Professor Hazel Kemshall of De Montfort University outlined what she thought research showed the probation service was doing well in this respect: "The first is the community supervision of sex offenders, particularly through specialist teams and units, group programmes for sexual offenders and, to a limited extent, also violent offenders. The evidence also shows that high-risk public protection teams, often comprising both police and probation co-located together, have been beneficial. The multi-agency public protection panels for multi-disciplinary risk assessment and management have also been helpful."[205] However, a lack of consistency between areas proved to be a limitation to this positive view.

160.  Work with other agencies to secure public protection through the management of offenders who pose a risk of harm to the public will continue to be a vital and demanding part of the role of the probation service.

146   Ev w24  Back

147   Ev w114 Back

148   Ev w24  Back

149   Q 524 Back

150   Ev w16 Back

151   Ev w114 Back

152   Ev 184; 173; Q 335 Back

153   Ev 184 Back

154   Q 335 Back

155   Ibid. Back

156   Q 374 Back

157   Qq 167-8, 407  Back

158   Q 407 Back

159   Ev 219 Back

160   Q 165 Back

161   Q 385 Back

162 Back

163   Q 587  Back

164   Ev w114 Back

165   Ev w18 Back

166   Q 524 Back

167   Ibid. Back

168   Ev w1 Back

169   Wv w24 Back

170   HC (2008-09)HC 94, para 77 Back

171   Ev 219  Back

172   Ministry of Justice, Probation statistics quarterly brief January to March 2010, July 2010 Back

173   Ev w24 Back

174   Ev 219  Back

175   Q 563  Back

176   Ev 196 Back

177   Q 569 Back

178   Q 568 Back

179   See e.g. Qq 495-7, 560-2 Back

180   Q 498 Back

181   Ev w48 Back

182   Ev w6; w47; w89, w93, w99, w103, w122, Q 499  Back

183   Ev 203  Back

184   Ev 156 Back

185   See e.g. Ev w18; w Back

186   Ev w116 Back

187   Q 567 Back

188   Q 695 Back

189   Ev w21; Qq 335, 374 Back

190   Q 525 Back

191   Q 335 Back

192   Q 703 Back

193   Ev w41 Back

194   London Criminal Justice Partnership, An evaluation of the Diamond Initiative; year two findings, April 2011 Back

195   Ev w116 Back

196   Ev w116 Back

197   Q 365 Back

198   Ev w13 Back

199   Q 689 Back

200   Q 508 Back

201   Q 691 Back

202   Ev w105 Back

203   Ev w48 Back

204   Ev w48 Back

205   Q 647 Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 27 July 2011