The role of the Probation Service - Justice Committee Contents


8  Conclusion

305.  The probation service has been through a decade of change—from the setting up of a national service, through the development of NOMS, to the establishment of trusts—and 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 offenders—with meaningful, comprehensive liaison between prisons and probation—become 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.



 
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Prepared 27 July 2011