Skip to main content

People on probation to tell their personal stories to MPs

7 December 2020

People under probation supervision, or who have been on probation in the past, have been invited by the House of Commons Justice Committee to tell their personal stories as MPs seek to learn about real-life experiences.

Purpose of the session

They will talk to the Committee in a session gathering evidence for an inquiry into the future of the Probation Service. The session will be broadcast on at 1430 HRS on Tuesday, December 8.

The participants will be asked what the Probation Service does for them and will be invited to express their personal opinions. They will be asked what is good and what is bad about the Service.

There are currently about 225,000 people on probation in England and Wales.

They are placed on probation either because they are serving a community sentence or if they have recently been released from prison. They can be required to do unpaid work, follow education or training courses, or receive treatment for addictions such as alcohol dependency. They can also be required to have regular meetings with their probation officer.

The Committee will hear from four people with direct experience of the Probation Service. They have all asked to be referred to by their first names only – Phil, Liam, Eden-Rose and Nadia.

The Committee has heard from previous witnesses about the potentially vital services people on probation should receive alongside the supervision they are required to undergo. These services include advice — or how to obtain advice — on housing, benefits and employment.

The Committee has also heard how hard-pressed the work of some probation officers can be. There are hundreds of unfilled probation officer vacancies across the country, leading to extremely heavy workloads and stressful conditions for those in post.

The Justice Committee session will also take evidence from the Minister responsible for probation services, Lucy Frazer QC MP. The Minister will be accompanied by Amy Rees, Director General of Probation in England and Wales, HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), and Jim Barton, Executive Director, Probation Reform Programme, HMPPS.

Background to the inquiry

Tuesday’s live public session of the Commons Committee is part of the evidence-gathering taking place for an inquiry into the future of the Probation Service. The Service is undergoing a major re-organisation in the way it does its work.

The government is bringing Probation Services back under its direct control after a period of privatisation. However, some elements of the Service, such as resettlement and rehabilitation after prison sentences, will still be contracted out to private companies or other organisations.

The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Justin Russell, described the latest management re-organisation as the “fourth major restructuring in over 20 years”.

“It is very important for everyone working in the service”, Mr Russell added, “that they get some stability going forward”. 

Futher information

Image: Parliamentary Copyright