129.The new model of probation is due to go live in June 2021 and be fully embedded from 2022. The integration of sentence management in the NPS in Wales took place at the end of 2019. Figure 1 sets out HMPPS’ high-level milestones for transitioning to the unified model. HMPPS “intend to end contracts [with CRCs] in summer 2021 when new arrangements for probation will come fully into effect. this will ensure a smooth transition, focussing on seamless continuity of public protection and rehabilitation in the community.”
Figure 1: High-level milestones for transitioning to the unified model
130.In its Target Operating Model, HMPPS says:
We will transfer to the new unified model on 26th June 2021 following the end of CRC contracts (Day 1). For Day 1, the aim is to maintain current operational delivery, protect service continuity and minimise risk of operational failures. This means minimising change for Day 1 and maintaining existing delivery models where feasible. We acknowledge that this may feel like a bigger change for those staff currently working within CRCs, particularly in relation to IT and systems which will largely be those utilised currently by the NPS. Once we have secured the smooth transition of services, post Day 1 we will phase in further changes that move us towards the target operating model.
131.Jim Barton, Executive Director, Probation Reform Programme, HMPPS, told us one problem with Transforming Rehabilitation was that transition felt like a “big bang moment” over a weekend. Wherever possible this time, transfer activity would be completed ahead of June, such as with training, laptop provision or buildings. “Where it is necessary, we will—forgive the jargon—lift and shift existing CRC operating models, and run them as they are today for a period of time while we bed in post transition. For that reason, we see probation reform as a programme running for 12 months, post June next year, to complete that process”. Figure 2, sets out HMPPS’s priority areas for continuity from Day 1.
Figure 2: Priority areas for continuity from Day 1
132.Some have questioned the ‘lift and shift’ approach being taking to transition; some CRC providers said the transition risks repeating some mistakes made during transition to Transforming Rehabilitation, such as inadequate and rushed planning, and immature operational designs. CRC providers say transition risks contain more hazards this time, as 21 different models and ways of work are being transferred into the NPS against the backdrop of Covid-19. Sodexo told us:
There are at least 8 different operating models to insource (8 parents and the NPS) and variations in approach also exist between the different NPS regions. The Authority [Ministry of Justice] does not have a detailed understanding the operating models across all services and cannot therefore know the challenges and risks associated with getting from our respective and different models, to the new NPS Target Operating Model–which itself has not been deployed, and will require regional adaptations which are not yet designed. It is possible in theory and on paper to design a programme which delivers to a 12 month timeline, but in practice the delivery of such a programme cannot, in our view, be assured.”
133.Justin Russell, Chief Inspector of Probation, HM Inspectorate of Probation told us that the timeline for transition was ambitious:
The clock is ticking, and they have eight months to go till June next year. My own experience of leading big transition programmes is that there is an awful lot of detail that you have to get right. If you do not get it right, you have people turning up to work on day one whose IT systems are not working, who maybe cannot even get through the door and who do not have half the cases they are supposed to be bringing with them.
The critical things are that you need to make sure the people are coming across, that you have everyone in scope, and that you have sorted out terms and conditions, pensions and vetting and all the rest of it. You need to make sure that the IT and the data systems are right, because we are talking about 113,000 cases transferring into the National Probation Service, and you do not want to lose any of them on the way.
You need to make sure that you have sorted all the buildings and the accommodation. Purely sorting out the leases on tens or hundreds of buildings is a detailed and difficult task. There are some big things that need to happen between now and June.
134.David Hood, Vice President of International Business, MTC, told us transition is difficult and complex; In addition to transitioning 21 CRCs (many with different models), the MOJ are also trying to deliver a Dynamic Framework in the context of Covid within a period of less than a year. He said:
The approach the Department is trying to take, as I understand it, is to do what they refer to as lift and shift and, rightly, try to deliver a new model with as little disruption on day one as possible. The reality is that, when you look at our CRCs, they are not delivering a lift and shift. The case management system is a good example, because it is a fundamental tool that our staff use. It is very different from what the NPS uses. It took us well over six months just to roll it out and train staff on that new tool. It sits within a suite of other technologies that support operations and are delivering operations in the context of reduced staff numbers over the years. Combining all those things together, we are presented with a very difficult proposition to get all of it working in June 2021.
135.Adam Hart, Chief Executive Officer, Reducing Reoffending Partnership told us that, at the point of taking evidence that they were three months into a 12-month expedited transition for June 2021: “it feels like we are trying to do a 12 to 18-month programme in the remaining 9 months” which “has to heighten the risk to public safety”.
136.The Inspectorate of Probation noted that some CRCs are preparing staff well; for example, their inspection of Thames Valley CRC found that: “senior leaders have continued to invest in staff development. In some areas, for example the West Midlands, we found that NPS and CRC leaders are working well together to plan for the transition.” HM Inspectorate of Probation are conducting a national thematic inspection into transition planning and managements, and will report this year.
137.Lucy Frazer QC MP, then Minister of State for Justice, believed there was sufficient time to transition to the new model:
The reason I say that is that we are already doing some of the work. […] in February we are going to give everyone laptops and their digital systems. We are going to transfer ownership of the CRC leasehold buildings in January. We are taking steps now to make sure that the transition will be smooth, having learnt from what we did in Wales, so that staff will be ready to go in June. We are working very closely with the CRCs at the moment, and they are positively supporting us in our work.
138.Jim Barton, Executive Director, Probation Reform Programme, HMPPS, told us: “We have made a very clear commitment to the trade unions, which the Minister has endorsed, that there will be no compulsory redundancies as a result of this programme for at least two years. Two years is a very long time in the probation service. It gives us plenty of time to work through transitional issues.”
139.Voluntary sector organisations have also reported potential concerns about transition, particularly relating to TUPE arrangements. Nacro said: “We are concerned that local managers have not been given sufficient involvement in or knowledge of the changes for them to be able to successfully manage this transition. It is critical providers like us are engaged so we can advise our staff and service users.” Catch 22 told us that there is a lot of uncertainty, clarity and anxiety on job security: “This is impacting attrition and means that we are losing a lot of expertise, creating further instability. We are still uncertain whether we will retain our existing staff or how many will be eligible for TUPE if we win a contract through the dynamic framework. This level of uncertainty makes it very difficult for us to plan.”
140.Jessica Mullen, Director of Influence and Engagement, Clinks, emphasised the confusion many in the voluntary sector felt about transition, particularly in regard to TUPE arrangements, and which contract staff those may cover. HMPPS’s commitment to no compulsory redundancies for the first two years extends to voluntary sector supply chain partners, but lack of clarity remains over which voluntary sector staff are in scope, particularly where roles delivered currently intersect with what might be delivered in the new model (e.g., via the NPS or commissioned services).
141.Transition to the new model in the context of covid-19 presents a huge operational challenge, particularly for operating models, IT systems and building leases. The Ministry and HMPPS have assured us that work is under way to ensure transition is successfully and completed on schedule.
144.We recommend that the MOJ and HMPPS involve voluntary organisations and CRCs in relevant communications relating to transition. We recommend that the MOJ clarify to relevant voluntary sector supply chain partners their position in relation to TUPE, including what staff members are eligible and what contract they fall into.
184 HMPPS, (March 2020), p 24
185 HMPPS, (February 2021), p 24
186 [Jim Barton]
187 See also: Seetec (); Tom Yates (External Communications Executive at MTC) ()
188 Sodexo ()
189 [Justin Russell]
190 [David Hood] See also: [Suki Binning]; [Trevor Shortt]; [Adam Hart]
191 [David Hood]
192 [Adam Hart]
193 Justin Russell (HM Chief Inspector of Probation at HM Inspectorate of Probation) ()
194 [Lucy Frazer]
195 [Jim Barton]
196 NACRO ()
197 Catch22 ()
198 [Jessica Mullen]