60. Memorandum from HM Inspectorate
I write in response to Paul Evans' letter dated
21 March 2002. You will see from the replies to the questions
posed in that letter, that HM Inspectorate of Probation has not,
to date, performed the roles that are identified as possibly falling
within the remit of a Human Rights Commission.
HMIP has recently completed a programme of inspections
covering all 42 probation areas in England and Wales, which started
in January 1999 and over the next few months we will be planning
our next area inspection programme, due to commence in January
2003. It is my intention that the new programme will give attention
to the National Probation Service's compliance with human rights
and the action taken to establish a culture of human rights among
staff. The detail of that programme and how human rights issues
will be addressed has not yet been developed, but, given the range
of other work that must be examined, the amount of time that can
be allocated to the subject will be relatively limited. An alternative
that I will consider is whether human rights might be the focus
of a separate thematic inspection. Such inspections take a national
view of the probation service's work on a particular topic, allowing
it to be examined in more depth. The final selection of subjects
to be examined by that means rests with the Secretary of State
and, as you will appreciate, there is no shortage of issues competing
In considering the best approach to inspecting
probation services' compliance with human rights HMIP will be
seeking the advice of other inspection and audit bodies in the
criminal justice system that may already have some experience
of inspecting this subject. Any information from the Joint Committee
or relevant experience of other similar bodies would be helpful.
In reply to the particular questions posed and
taking them in the order in which they appear in Paul Evans' letter:
1. To date compliance with human rights
has not been referenced by HMIP in assessing the performance of
the National Probation Service, although it is planned that it
will be a criterion in future inspections.
2. As above.
3. Not applicable.
4. No relevant experience or information
at this stage.
5. When compliance with human rights becomes
a part of the standards and criteria against which the performance
of the NPS is assessed it will be the responsibility of HMIP to
offer relevant advice to the National Probation Directorate and,
on specific matters, to individual probation areas.
6. The role of HMIP includes (a) offering
advice on particular problems when requested to do so, (b) pro-actively
offering advice based on the findings of its inspections and (c)
participating in fora convened to review the implementation of
existing policy and consider further policy development, again
using the findings of inspections.
7. Yes. See comments above.
11 April 2002