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Experts and practitioners questioned on the future of the National Probation Service

12 October 2020

The Justice Committee holds a public consultation with experts and practitioners on the future of the National Probation Service, a key part of the justice system which has a total caseload of nearly a quarter of a million people.


Tuesday 13 October, virtual meeting


  • Laura Seebohm, Executive Director – External Affairs, Changing-Lives (a charity providing a range of social services)
  • Jessica Mullen, Director of Influence and Communications, Clinks (promotes and represents the voluntary sector working in the criminal justice system)
  • Mat Ilic, Chief Development Officer, Catch22 (not for profit that delivers services to “build resilience and aspiration”)

At 3.30pm

  • David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, also representing the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

At 3.50pm

  • Ian Lawrence, General Secretary, National Association of Probation Officers (Napo)
  • Katie Lomas, National Chair, Napo
  • Ben Priestley, National Officer for Probation, Unison (public service trade union)

The Probation Service is undergoing its second major reform programme in five years, while simultaneously dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic which has made its work much more difficult.

Part of the probation service was privatised in 2014/15, with non-custodial community sentences for medium and low risk offenders (that is, the majority of offenders) being contracted out to private companies.

This change was fraught with problems and in 2018, the Justice Committee of the previous Parliament published a report which said these reforms “had some laudable aims”, but that these aims had not been met.

The then-Chair of the Committee described the system as a “mess”. A Public Accounts Committee report in the same year found that the performance of the private companies was “woeful”.

Following the publication of the 2018 Justice Committee report, the then-Secretary of State for Justice, David Gauke, announced that the private company contracts would be ended early and that the supervision of all offenders, at all risk levels, would be brought back under the control of the National Probation Service.

The new model for delivering probation services will involve the National Probation Service, the voluntary sector and private companies. The current Justice Committee inquiry (this public hearing is the second in a series of hearings) is to look into this model of delivery, including in particular asking how the commissioning of services will work.

The Committee are also interested in how well the current changes are being managed and how likely it is that they will be successfully implemented, as is planned, by June 2021.

Further information

Image: Gerald England/geograph