New inquiry: The future of the Probation Service
21 July 2020
The Justice Committee is launching an inquiry today on the future of the Probation Service. The Committee is seeking written submissions and will take oral evidence from stakeholders on the new model for the delivery of probation services. It is anticipated that a report will be published in February 2021.
Probation services have gone through substantial change in the past five years.
After the financial failure and withdrawal of several Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) private providers, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) decided to end CRC contracts 14 months early (during this year) and to return to having a single national probation service for all offenders, but with some services still contracted out to private, voluntary or statutory providers.
On 11 June 2020, The Lord Chancellor announced that the competitive process for contracts would be ended, and instead these elements of probation delivery would be brought back under the control of the National Probation Service (NPS). The new model of probation is due to go live in June 2021.
The Committee's inquiry will examine the proposed model for the new probation service and seek views on how well the proposed model addresses the problems identified in the past.
Additionally, the Committee will seek to understand the effect the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the delivery of probation services and what the potential impact may be going forward into the next phase of the probation reform programme.
Send us your views
Please send us your views through the website on some or all of the following by 7 September 2020:
Q1. What are you views on the decision to end the competition for Probation Delivery Partners, and bring those service back into NPS delivery?
Q2. How were private sector providers involved in the decision to end competition?
- What opportunity were providers given to make alternative proposals?
- What effect will this decision have on the future of private sector involvement in the criminal justice system?
Q3: What are your views on the new model of probation?
- What do you like about the new model?
- What do you dislike?
Q4: Does the new model address the issue of confidence in community sentence options?
- If yes, how?
- If no, why not?
Q5: The new model aims to strengthen integration between prisons and probation by integrating through-the-gate roles, processes and products with sentence management. What is your view on this? Do you anticipate any gaps/challenges?
Q6: What progress has been made in implementing the probation reforms in Wales?
- What lessons have been learnt so far and how are these being shared?
Q7: How will the National Probation Service ensure that it maintains the innovation and best practice achieved during the Transforming Rehabilitation Reforms?
Q8: Does the new model offer a level playing field for small and specialist voluntary and third sector organisations in regard to the commissioning? Given the challenges in the previous model, how will a new national service secure input from smaller providers?
- What impact has Covid-19 had on this, if any?
Q9: What is the anticipated effect of procuring resettlement and rehabilitative services using a dynamic framework?
- Do you foresee any problems with this model?
Q10: What progress has been made so far in the commissioning of services through the dynamic framework?
Q11: CRCs and NPS staff are being brought back together under the new model. How is this transition being managed?
- What support is available to staff during this time?
- How are service users being supported through this transition?
Q12: CRCs currently use several different operating systems – how easy will it be to merge these into one model? Do you foresee any challenges?
Q13: What impact is the transition having on the voluntary/third sector organisations already providing probation services?
Q14: The Ministry of Justice made the decision to end the competition for Probation Delivery Partners and bring these services into the NPS. These services are to go live in June 2021; is there sufficient time to transition probation over to the new model?
- If anything, what needs to be taken into consideration during this time?
Q15: Does the new model address workload issues, e.g. high caseloads, recruitment/retention?
Q16: What progress has been made towards probation being recognised as a “skilled profession”?
Q17: What impact has Covid-19 had on the probation service?
- the immediate impact and/or
- the anticipated long-term impact
Q18: What lessons have been learnt from this period of Exceptional Delivery, that should be taken forward into the new model of probation delivery?
- How are lessons learnt being shared with probation practitioners?
Q19: Are there any other areas relating to the Probation Reform Programme that you would like to brief the Committee on, that are not already covered by the Terms of Reference above? (If yes, please provide information)
The Chair of the Justice Committee, Sir Bob Neill, said:
“We'll want to know if this new model will work and whether it will be capable of clearing the backlog of probation work caused by the pandemic. We'll be asking whether private sector providers were consulted about these proposals, whether there were counter-proposals, and how the new model will supply the necessary services.
But above all we will want to see improvements in the rehabilitation of offenders, improvements in probation service staff morale and robust protections for the public.
In short, we want to make sure these latest reforms do not repeat the errors of the past so that the Justice Committee will, in future years, be scrutinizing a Probation Service fit for the Twenty First Century.”
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