The future of the Probation Service Contents

5Through the Gate and the new Resettlement model

88.Successful rehabilitation of people leaving prison relies on successful transition from prison to probation and other relevant community services. Through the Gate (TTG) resettlement services were introduced in 2015 (part of Transforming Rehabilitation) with the aim of providing a “seamless transition between prison and the community” and thus reducing reoffending.127 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) were to provide TTG services to help prisoners maintain or find accommodation; provide assistance with finance, benefits and debt; and support entry to education, training and employment.”128

89.In 2016 and 2017, HM Inspectorate of Prisons reported significant problems with Through the Gate resettlement services for prisoners (short-term prisoners and those serving 12 months or more respectively). HM Inspectorate of Probation reported in 2016 that the quality of resettlement services was poor for those serving short sentences.129 In 2017, HM Inspectorate of Probation reported: “CRCs are making little difference to their prospects on release… If Through the Gate services were removed tomorrow, in our view the impact on the resettlement of prisoners would be negligible.”130 HMPPS accepted that “that the service wasn’t working as well as we hoped it would. There simply wasn’t enough detail about what it should look like and what it should deliver. Also, a number of people were being released from non-resettlement prisons who were not receiving a service.”131

90.In July 2018, the Ministry of Justice announced £22 million a year additional funding to improve resettlement for the remaining period of the CRC contracts.132 The enhanced resettlement offer included tiered support for service users and focused on meeting service user needs in accommodation; employment, training and education; finance benefits and debt, and personal, relationships and community.133

91.The Ministry of Justice published an Evaluation of the Enhanced Through the Gate specification which presents the findings from a process evaluation of the transition to the ETTG specification in England and Wales. Some 165 interviews were conducted with TTG teams, prison staff and NPS staff in 20 prisons. Many consider the Enhanced TTG model to have been relatively successful, including HM Inspectorate of Probation, Clinks, and Nacro.134 Catch 22 noted: “One of the positives of Transforming Rehabilitation was the implementation of Through the Gate support for all prisoners, with a holistic and seamless service.”135

The new resettlement model

92.Current Through the Gate arrangements have been in place since 1 April 2019 and will run until the new arrangements go live in June 2021. The MOJ’s new approach to resettlement “is intended to address the issues identified in Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prison/Probation (HMIP) reports on resettlement and through the gate services, whilst retaining the best practice developed by CRCs and their partner third sector organisations delivering Enhanced Through The Gate (ETTG) services.”136 The MOJ and HMPPS note that although they have seen improvements in some places since the additional investment was made in Through the Gate Services, there is a need, given the wider changes taking place across probation, to implement a revised approach to resettlement. The MOJ and HMPPS say:

Currently, individuals released from non-resettlement prisons are only able to access through the gates services if commissioned. Our resettlement approach provides pre-release activities for all sentenced individuals whichever prison they are held in before release and considers necessary support, including the importance of strong family relationships to support desistance.137

93.The new approach to resettlement is intended to enable the delivery of a more coherent and effective service.138 The model is being developed alongside the Offender Management in Custody (OMiC) and reconfiguration work.139 HMPPS say the new model will:

94.Table 4, sets out who is responsible for the offender’s resettlement needs, depending on the type or sentence and sentence length.

Table 4: Outline of the Future Resettlement Model

Source: HMPPS, A Draft Target Operating Model for the Future of Probation Services in England and Wales (March 2020), p 98

95.Lucy Frazer QC MP, then Minister of State for Justice, told us about the work the Ministry had done to learn from the Enhanced Through the Gate model and improve the resettlement model, including reducing the number of people who become involved in a prisoner’s journey; the offender will have a prison offender manager in prison, and then a probation offender manager (community offender manager) who will come in to the prison to support offenders 10 months before release. Further to this, The Ministry are introducing a team based in the prison that specialises in short sentences, which aims to reduce the number of people an offender needs to liaise with.140

96.Much of our evidence welcomes the commitment from the Ministry of Justice to improve the integration between prison and probation in the new resettlement model. The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners welcomed stronger integration particularly if it reduces failure to notify relevant organisations of early prisoner release.141 Julia Mulligan, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, noted: “For the majority of the time that CRCs operated, ‘through-the-gate’ was not genuinely through the gate, but rather up to the point of release and not beyond. This created a massive disconnect between interventions and resettlement support provided in prison and those provided in the community.”142 Some 54% of UNISON members surveyed agreed the new model would improve integration.143

97.Good practice developed under the Enhanced Through the Gate model needs to be continued under the new model. The Magistrates Association told us that: “There are some very successful examples of good practice where through the gate services are working well, with prisons linking up with CRCs and charities that are providing supportive services. It will be important not to lose current good practice and effective services.”144 Nacro and Catch-22 both anticipate difficulties in identifying the need for and delivery of interventions, for example, if specialist providers are based in the community with in-reach required into prisons.145 Catch-22 said: “For example, we could see a service user being helped by eight or nine different organisations, as well as those through OMU [Offender Management Unit] and the prison.”146147 Laura Seebohm, Executive Director, External Affairs, Changing Lives, expanded the point:

The actual reality of prison life is clearance, getting space to see people if it is in-reach, with probation officers coming in, and the operational capacity of prisons to deliver. Are prisons involved in that planning and modelling or not? We don’t know, to be honest; or I don’t know. The nervousness of our teams is that maybe they are not.148

98.Lucy Frazer QC MP, then Minister of State for Justice, addressed the point about prisons being involved in the planning. Resettlement work was being led by the former Governor of HMP Liverpool, “who has brought her extensive experience of running a prison into our resettlement strategy”.149

Offender Management in Custody

99.Other concerns have been raised about the development of the resettlement model alongside the Offender Management in Custody Model. The Offender Management in Custody model (OMiC) intends to improve safety by building better relationships between staff and prisoners. The model introduces a keyworker system, where all prisoners - where the system has been rolled out - will be allocated a key worker whose responsibility is to engage, motivate and support them through the custodial period. Governors must ensure that time is made available for an average of 45 minutes per week for the delivery of the key worker role. The second part of the model is the move away from being allocated offender managers in the community, to having a prison-based offender manager.150

100.Clinks told us:

As we understand it, the roll out had not been fully completed prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown has resulted in further challenges to its implementation. We have been told by voluntary organisations currently providing through the gate services that neither they nor many governors fully understand the resettlement proposals and how they will work in practice.

HM Inspectorate of Probation also noted that: “It remains to be seen whether the new Offender Management in Custody arrangements will at least maintain, but ideally build on, these successes. We have committed to a joint thematic inspection of the OMiC arrangements, in both custody and the community, with HM Inspectorate of Prisons in the summer of 2021 (this was postponed form summer 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19 on business as usual).”151

101.We welcome the additional investment the Ministry of Justice has made to improve Through the Gate service provision until existing contracts end. We are pleased that this additional investment has resulted in an improved service for those in need of resettlement support and we hope that the service continues to improve under the new model of probation. We particularly welcome the Ministry’s intention to improve the integration between prison and community. All this being said, we have heard from several witnesses that the new resettlement model lacks clarity, with some uncertainty about how the model will be delivered in practice.

102.We recommend that the Ministry of Justice set out how they intend the new model to be delivered practically on a local level, and how the model will work alongside those services commissioned through the Dynamic Framework. The Ministry should detail how they will ensure the “in-reach” (pre-release contact between the probation offender manager and prisoner) aspect of the new model works in practice, considering challenges often faced in regard to security clearance, access to space and the operational capacity for prisons to deliver.

103.We note that the new resettlement model is being developed alongside the Offender Management in Custody (OMiC) Model. While we welcome both models, our inquiry has highlighted some concern that the OMiC model has not yet been fully rolled out across the prison estate, which could affect implementation and success of the resettlement model. We recommend that the Ministry of Justice set out the status of roll-out of the OMiC model, including how many prisons are implementing the model fully, partially and not at all. Should the model not yet be fully implemented, we invite the Ministry to provide a timetable for its full roll-out.

127 HM Inspectorate of Prisons and HM Inspectorate of Probation, An Inspection of Through the Gate Resettlement Services for Prisoners Serving 12 Months or More (June 2017), p 3

128 HM Inspectorate of Prisons and HM Inspectorate of Probation, An Inspection of Through the Gate Resettlement Services for Prisoners Serving 12 Months or More (June 2017), p 3

129 HM Inspectorate of Probation and HM Inspectorate of Prisons, An Inspection of Through the Gate Resettlement Services for Short-Term Prisoners (October 2016), p 8

130 HM Inspectorate of Prisons and HM Inspectorate of Probation, An Inspection of Through the Gate Resettlement Services for Prisoners Serving 12 Months or More (June 2017), p 3

131 Clinks, Launch of an enhance service through the prison gate, accessed 12 February 2021

132 “Justice Secretary outlines future vision for probation”, Ministry of Justice, 27 July 2018

134 Justin Russell (HM Chief Inspector of Probation at HM Inspectorate of Probation) (PRO0008) and NACRO (PRO0013) and Clinks (PRO0015)

135 Catch22 (PRO0016)

140 Q190[Lucy Frazer]

141 Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (PRO0017)

142 Julia Mulligan (Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire at Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire) (PRO0007)

143 UNISON (PRO0018)

144 Magistrates Association (PRO0019)

145 NACRO (PRO0013)

146 Catch22 (PRO0016)

148 Q80 [Laura Seebohm]

149 Q196 [Lucy Frazer]

150 Ministry of Justice, Manage the Custodial Sentence Policy Framework (November 2018), p 9

151 Justin Russell (HM Chief Inspector of Probation at HM Inspectorate of Probation) (PRO0008)

Published: 23 April 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement