Transforming Rehabiliation: Follow-up Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Probation staff

1.We welcome the Minister’s offer to write to explain his plans to recruit and retain more probation officers, including current, planned and achieved numbers. This should include information about grade, development, training and caseload allocation. (Paragraph 15)

2.We support the principle of an independent statutory register for probation professionals, since it is important to raise the status of the probation profession. It is important to consult widely on this, including with the unions, and we look forward to scrutinising the detailed proposals. (Paragraph 19)

3.We recommend that the necessary legislation to introduce a statutory register for probation professionals be introduced as soon as possible, and certainly within the next Queen’s Speech at the very latest. (Paragraph 19)

Voluntary Sector

4.It is vital that the new system should be organised and funded in such a way that the involvement of the voluntary sector is protected and encouraged. We should be able to measure this. The Government should develop a detailed evaluation strategy to ensure that it measures the impact of its new probation policy on the voluntary sector from 2020 in Wales and 2021 in England. This should include establishing the current baseline, to order to measure change. From the start of 2022, the Government should publish transparent figures setting out how much probation funding flows to the voluntary and private sector (including through sub-contracting), and to whom. (Paragraph 27)

Through the Gate

5.We acknowledge that it is still, in the words of the Minister, “fairly early days”, but we will want to see that this additional TTG funding makes a real difference. The MOJ should provide us with an evaluation of TTG by the end of 2020, setting out how the funding has delivered improved support and better outcomes for offenders leaving custody and returning to the community. (Paragraph 31)

Accommodation

6.We are disappointed that the Government rejected our recommendation to publish an accommodation strategy and action plan for prisoners on release, given the serious problems we have identified. Ex-prisoners are a distinct group, and it is vital that their specific needs are not lost in the MHCLG-owned Rough Sleeping Strategy and Delivery plan. In addition, ex-prisoner accommodation needs go much wider than rough sleeping alone: there is a diverse range of needs in the ex-prisoner cohort, including people with mental health and social care needs, as well as offenders convicted of sexual offences. The MOJ should update us by December 2019 on their work to address the accommodation needs of prisoners on release, including the national working group around the Homelessness Act. This update should set out both actions taken and outcomes. (Paragraph 35)

7.The new HM Inspector of Probation plans to start a thematic review relating to accommodation in 2019–20. We welcome this and look forward to its publication. (Paragraph 36)

Reducing Reoffending

8.We welcome the establishment of the cross-cutting Reducing Reoffending Board, but we have not seen the promised public announcements of its work. The Minister for the Cabinet Office should update us in September 2019 on progress made by the Reducing Reoffending Board since his July 2018 letter. This update should set out how many times the Board has met since July 2018, the deliverable and measurable proposals agreed by the Board, how actions are being tracked and data collected to measure progress, and what specific and measurable outcomes have been achieved to date. (Paragraph 38)

Post-release supervision

9.The MOJ should write to us by October 2019 to tell us how it is improving post-sentence supervision in order to meet our concerns, and those of the previous HM Inspector of Probation, that it is insufficiently flexible to meet the individual needs of offenders. (Paragraph 45)

Sentencing policy

10.We very much welcome Government’s stated intention to move away from short custodial sentences and look forward to scrutinising their proposals when these are brought forward. (Paragraph 55)

11.Proposals on short custodial sentences should set out the intensive rehabilitative approaches which will be put in place as an alternative to deal with prolific offenders, as well as how sentencer confidence will be increased. (Paragraph 55)

Funding: transition to the new model

12.The risk of provider disinvestment will inevitably increase with the news that there will not be new CRC tenders in the pipeline. We note the priority which the MOJ is placing on close contract management of the remaining term of the CRC contracts, and we will be deeply concerned about the value for money for the taxpayer of any future bail-out of such contracts. HMPPS must pay close attention to what the new HMI Probation reports about the health of probation provision during the transition to the replacement system. (Paragraph 62)

13.We agree with the NAO’s assessment that the commissioning of TR commissioning was rushed and over-optimistic. The MOJ, HMPPS and NPS must learn from the experience of the failed and hurried introduction of the CRC/NPS split of services, if future commissioning is to prove more effective. (Paragraph 64)

Funding: the cost of TRM

14.When the period with the current CRCs has been finalised and completed, the MOJ should publish a cost analysis, setting out the spend on CRCs and the changes for the lifetime of the CRC contracts. We also note that HMPPS publishes a cost per prisoner per year; the MOJ should consider publishing per-head costs of offender probation support, broken down by CRCs and the NPS. (Paragraph 72)





Published: 19 July 2019