Transforming Rehabilitation Contents

6The long-term delivery of probation services

191.In this Report we have focussed on short and medium-term solutions to the multitude of issues facing the probation sector. During our evidence, the long-term viability of the Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) reforms have been discussed. In this Chapter we set out the evidence that we have heard in relation to TR’s long-term future and our view on this matter.

192.Through the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms, the then Government sought to:

Is the current system salvageable?

193.We did not receive any evidence which took the view that the current system was without fault and did not require any changes in the short to medium-term. There was however no overall agreement over whether TR had a long-term future: several submissions indicated that the system was salvageable but a large number of witnesses also thought that it was not. In oral evidence Switchback, a London-based rehabilitation charity, acknowledged that there were problems with the current system but believed these could be fixed: some of the principles at the heart of TR “were good ones, which could be revisited”.350 Some witnesses, including Shelter, took the view that TR was still suffering from “implementation issues”.351

194.HM Chief Inspector of Probation, Dame Glenys Stacey, agreed in evidence to a question from the Committee that “the system [was] fundamentally flawed”.352 Unison told us that to date there had been a series of “stop-gap, sticking-plaster approaches” to the problems facing the sector, and “nothing other than a fundamental root and branch review and the reestablishment of a unified service will sort the problem out”.353 Other witnesses also agreed that returning to public ownership was the only option.354

195.The Minister of State, Rory Stewart OBE MP, in oral evidence was more optimistic about the long-term future of the current system. He explained that the current probation system was “salvageable”. He also cautioned against another transformation:

Some of the problems that we are facing are problems of managing radical change. I can understand why people think that the current system has serious flaws, but I emphasise that there would be considerable costs in trying to reinvent the system yet again.355

When should a review take place?

196.As we expressed earlier in this Report there has been a lack of transparency regarding previous reviews. The Ministry of Justice’s written submission appeared to indicate a preference for a piecemeal approach, rather than a wholesale review of the system. It explained that the Ministry was keeping the probation system under review and lessons learned would inform “the next generation of services”.356

197.A number of witnesses, including Police and Crime Commissioners, a police officer, trade unions, academics and charities, called for an “immediate review” or for a review to start as soon as possible of the TR reforms.357 Unison surveyed its members to inform its submission: 78% of respondents supported a review taking place immediately.358 Several witnesses also called for a review within six to 12 months.359

198.While some witnesses, including HMI Probation, stressed the importance of such a review taking place they also emphasised that the current contracts “cannot just be brought to a sudden halt”.360 Some witnesses, including David Chantler, a former Chief Probation Officer of West Mercia Probation, and Clinks, explained that commencing a review immediately would mean that a replacement to TR could be in place in time for the current contracts end date (expected to be 31 January 2022 although The Times reported on 14 June that the Government intended to terminate the contracts in 2020 and reduce the number of CRCs to 14 (from 21)). Others, particularly CRCs, called for “a period of calm” and “for sufficient time [to] pass so that [CRC] innovation and impact [could] be measured”.361 These providers varied in their views on when they thought a review of probation should take place, with some calling for a review now, others in two years’ time and other CRCs calling for a contract extension and a review after the seven-year contract.362

199.Other witnesses, such as Business in the Community, a charity, stressed the importance of a review looking at the wider picture, including other areas of the criminal justice system and changes and challenges that they were facing.363 Shelter explained that the review also needed to ensure that lessons were learned from providers’ experience.364

200.The Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) reforms are not meeting the then Government’s aims. We are unconvinced that as things stand the TR model can ever deliver an effective or viable probation service. We recommend that the Ministry of Justice should initiate a review into the long-term future and sustainability of delivering probation services under the models introduced by the TR reforms, including how performance under the TR system might compare to an alternative system for delivering probation. The Government should publish its review, in full, by 1 February 2019. Given the issues which have arisen due to the speedy implementation of the TR reforms and lack of piloting, any new model must be thoroughly planned and tested.

351 Shelter (TRH0030). See also Q143.

353 Q109. See also, for example, Mr Tony Knivett/John Budd (TRH0093).

354 See for example, Roger Statham (TRH0008), Napo (TRH0059), A Probation Officer (TRH0069) and Philip Priestley and Maurice Vanstone (TRH0082).

356 Ministry of Justice (TRH0032)

357 See for example Q145 and written evidence from a Police Officer (TRH0006), St Giles Trust (TRH0009), NAPO (TRH0014), Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner (TRH0015), Professor Dr John Deering and Professor Martina Feilzer (TRH0018), Diocese of Worcester Criminal Justice Affairs Group (TRH0019), Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset (TRH0020), Centre for Community, Gender and Social Justice (TRH0024), Napo The Four Shires branch (TRH0026), Adaptus Consulting LLP (TRH0041), The Forward Trust (TRH0049), Commonweal Housing (TRH0058), Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire (TRH0070), Women in Prison (TRH0076), Serco plc (TRH0077), Criminal Justice Alliance (TRH0079)and Office of Police and Crime Commissioner Devon and Cornwall (TRH0083).

358 UNISON (TRH0045)

359 See for example, Q168, London Borough of Hounslow (TRH0044), Pact Futures CIC (TRH0050), Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (TRH0068) and Centre for Social Justice (TRH0086).

360 Qq335–336. See also Ms Christine Lawrie (TRH0029), Office of the Avon & Somerset Police & Crime Commissioner (TRH0043) and Q144.

361 See for example, Reducing Reoffending Partnership (TRH0037), Interserve (TRH0088) and Inspiring intelligence ltd (TRH0089).

362 MTCnovo (TRH0067)—review in two years; Interserve (TRH0088)—review now; Sodexo (Q247 and Sodexo Justice (TRH0061))—give CRCs until 2022 until reviewing the contracts and consider extending the contract by three years to 10 years; and Seetec (TRH0036)—if contracts are working they should be extended.

363 Business in the Community (TRH0039). See also for example, Parole Board for England & Wales (TRH0054).

364 Shelter (TRH0030)

Published: 22 June 2018