Transforming Rehabilitation Contents

2Transforming Rehabilitation reforms

13.In this Chapter we will set out:

How were probation services delivered before TR?

14.Prior to the TR reforms probation services were delivered by 35 self-governing Probation Trusts, which worked under the direction of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).19 In practice this meant that each Probation Trust, while having its own management board and slightly different style of delivery, delivered broadly the same service and all Trusts had to follow, for example, national standards and training. The then Justice Committee in its Report in January 2014, before the implementation of the TR reforms, set out evidence it had heard about the local nature of the Probation Trusts and the specific roles that they undertook:

As well as delivering services themselves, Probation Trusts play a strategic role in meeting both the needs of the courts and their other statutory obligations within a complex array of local partnerships with local criminal justice agencies and other statutory agencies, for example, to commission, co-commission, and broker access to a range of other services.20

Aims of the reforms

Why did the then Government make changes to probation?

15.As explained in Chapter one the then Government launched a consultation on its proposed reforms in January 2013 and published its response to the consultation in May 2013. In its consultation document the then Government explained that through these reforms it was seeking to:

16.A key aim of the reforms was reducing reoffending. At the time that the then Government launched its consultation on the reforms the Ministry explained:

Consistently high reoffending rates have led to the radical overhaul with almost half of all prison-leavers reoffending within 12 months - for those serving less than a year that figure rises to almost 58 per cent. And half a million crimes are committed by convicted crooks each year. […]

The new approach is expected to deliver steady year on year reductions in reoffending across England and Wales as the best from all sectors pool knowledge and resources to help break the cycle of crime.22

17.The Ministry expected the delivery of probation (including provision of probation services to over 40,000 additional offenders) to be possible within the existing funding envelope. This was as the new contracts, the then Government hoped, would deliver “more efficient services” as it intended to “award contracts to those providers who demonstrate[d] that they [could] deliver efficient, high-quality services and improve value for money”.23

18.Before the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms were rolled-out the then Government held two pilots: one at HMP Doncaster and the other at HMP Peterborough “to test the effect of financial incentives combined with the services to be provided under the new Rehabilitation Act” (more information on what this reform was is provided in the next sub-section of this Report).24 Before the pilots had concluded the Ministry proceeded with the full TR changes. The National Audit Office explained in a 2016 Report that “both pilots had reduced reconviction levels by less than targeted levels” by the time the pilots were concluded. Evaluation at a later date demonstrated that “payment by results had encouraged innovation in services and tailored support for users”, but questions remained about whether these results could be replicated across the country. It was a mistake to introduce the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms without completing thorough piloting.

What changes were introduced under the TR reforms?

19.The TR reforms were a major structural reform and introduced a number of changes to who delivered probation services and what was delivered as part of probation (see Box 1).

Box 1: The Transforming Rehabilitation reforms

  • Divided the delivery of probation services into two parts: the National Probation Service (NPS) and Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs):
    • The NPS is a public body responsible for handling offenders presenting a “higher risk of serious harm or with prior history of domestic violence and sexual offences”. The NPS is also responsible for advising the courts on sentencing of all offenders.
    • CRCs are private and/or third sector organisations (mainly in the private sector) responsible for handling offenders presenting a low or medium risk of harm. The CRCs are owned by eight different organisations or groups of organisations.
  • In England and Wales, there are seven NPS areas and 21 CRC areas. This new model of delivery was introduced in June 2014, although as part of the transition CRCs operated as companies in public ownership until 1 February 2015.25
  • Introduced a legislative provision, under the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014, which extended 12 months of compulsory post-sentence supervision (PSS) to offenders serving short custodial sentences (i.e. prison sentences of under 12 months).26 This added around 40,000 offenders to be supervised by probation services. This provision of the Act was commenced on 1 February 2015.27
  • Introduced ‘Through the Gate’ (TTG) support for offenders serving custodial sentences—CRCs were given responsibility to provide resettlement services to offenders 12 weeks before their release from custody to prepare them for their release from prison and for probation support in the community. The TTG provision was introduced in May 2015.28

20.The then Government also sought through the reforms to:

21.The role of HM Inspectorate of Probation (an independent body reporting to Government) remained unchanged following the TR reforms. In its consultation response the then Government explained that the Inspectorate would continue with the same remit and would be:

expected to inspect the system, covering both the public-sector probation service and the contracted providers, though minimising bureaucratic burdens, and to liaise with HM Inspector of Prisons in relation to pre-release provision. We envisage that the inspectorate will shine a light on and spread best practice across the system, giving providers the best opportunity to reduce reoffending.30

19 NOMS was an Executive Agency of the Ministry of Justice. NOMS is now called Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service.

21 Ministry of Justice, Transforming Rehabilitation: A revolution in the way we manage offenders, Cm 8517, January 2013, p3

23 Ministry of Justice, Transforming Rehabilitation: A revolution in the way we manage offenders, Cm 8517, January 2013, p9

26 Previously offenders receiving custodial sentences of 12 months or less received no statutory support on release. Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014, section 2

27 The Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 (Commencement No. 2) Order 2015, article 2

28 Previously people sentenced to custody for under 12 months were not eligible for probation support pre- or post-release, and any support they received would have been through informal and local arrangements. For all other custodial sentences, statutory support was provided pre- and post-release, with the emphasis being placed on planning for release from the point of sentence by prison and probation services (end-to-end offender management).

29 Ministry of Justice, Transforming Rehabilitation: A Strategy for Reform, Cm 8619, May 2013, pp3 and 6

30 Ministry of Justice, Transforming Rehabilitation: A Strategy for Reform, Cm 8619, May 2013, p32

Published: 22 June 2018