8 Conclusion |
305. The probation service has
been through a decade of changefrom the setting up of a
national service, through the development of NOMS, to the establishment
of trustsand more change is yet to come. We broadly support
the Government's proposed reforms as part of the process of reducing
re-offending, although we believe it should be more ambitious
in moving to an integrated system of offender management involving
the commissioning of both prison and probation services in defined
geographical areas. The following are key criteria against which
reforms will need to be tested in order to assess whether they
have been successful:
- Will more
resources be directed to front-line work and will probation officers
get to spend more time dealing directly with offenders?
- Will trusts have greater autonomy
to manage their budgets effectively?
- Will the end-to-end management
of offenderswith meaningful, comprehensive liaison between
prisons and probationbecome the rule, rather than the exception?
- Will good examples of effective
working with partners, such as the police and health service,
be encouraged and facilitated?
- Will payment by results be used
in a way which produces more efficient and effective services
which are properly locally accountable?
- Will the Government be more
ambitious in moving to an integrated system of offender management
involving the commissioning of both prison and probation services
in defined geographical areas?
- Will judges and magistrates
have access to the full range of community sentences so that their
hands are not tied by avoidable resource restraints?
- Will probation staff be encouraged
and motivated to achieve higher qualifications?
306. These questions are the
ones we shall continue to ask as the reforms are introduced and
as they bed in, and against which we shall continue to scrutinise
the performance of the Ministry of Justice and the probation service
throughout the remainder of this Parliament.