Written evidence from David Munro, Surrey PCC

Model

Q1: What are you views on the decision to end the competition for Probation Delivery Partners, and bring those service back into NPS delivery?

In Surrey we have enjoyed a close working relationship with Kent Surrey & Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company (KSSCRC) and have co-commissioned a number of successful services with them to reduce reoffending in the county. We believe that KSSCRC delivered on the model that was envisaged when Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) was introduced and have suffered the consequences of other CRCs in the country who have failed to achieve similar outcomes.

As an OPCC we welcome the introduction of Regional Directors and the fact they will possess innovation funds with which they can co-commission services with other stakeholders including ourselves. Their introduction should strengthen a joined up approach to reducing reoffending at a local and regional level and to the criminal justice system more broadly.

Engaging with our probation partners in the new model should be more straightforward as we will be dealing with a single organisation.

Q2: How were private sector providers involved in the decision to end competition?

In recent discussions with senior managers from KSSCRC they informed us they were not consulted although did submit alternative solutions to the justice minister.

This will depend on the effectiveness of the Dynamic Framework. It is accepted that many smaller 3rd sector providers lost out when TR was introduced as a result of new commissioning arrangements that were introduced. It remains to be seen whether these smaller types of organisations, such as those currently being commissioned by OPCCs, will become part of what is commissioned and delivered under new probation arrangements. We are aware that some of the services currently being delivered do not fit within parameters of the dynamic framework and have concerns about the future funding arrangements for these services.

Q3: What are your views on the new model of probation?

As per above response we like the introduction of regional directors and that, within the model, probation have highlighted the importance of closer relationships with OPCCs. Dealing with a single organisation should be more straightforward than dealing with two.

Q4: Does the new model address the issue of confidence in community sentence options?

This remains to be seen and to some extent will depend on how well the dynamic framework operates and what options are on offer. For magistrates to have confidence in community sentence options they need to be in possession of all the information relating to those options. I am aware that KSSCRC have been briefing magistrates on what they have available to instill confidence for them to choose those options. NPS would be wise to adopt a similar approach.

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?

Strengthened integration between prisons and probation for through the gate services would be welcomed, particularly if it eradicates the situation where prisons fail to notify relevant organisations of the early release of prisoners. This often leads to prisoners who are released without notification to other stakeholders losing out on allocated accommodation or providers having very little time to properly assess people for their suitability for certain accommodation.

Q6: What progress has been made in implementing the probation reforms in Wales?

This is something we have no knowledge of.

Q7: How will the National Probation Service ensure that it maintains the innovation and best practice achieved during the Transforming Rehabilitation Reforms?

By engaging with and listening to the incumbent private companies and other stakeholders including OPCCs.

Commissioning: Dynamic Framework

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?

Too early to tell as progress with the introduction of the dynamic framework has been delayed and is still ongoing. We are aware that a number of our existing commissioned services both small and large are going through the application process and are encouraged by that.

Q9: What is the anticipated effect of procuring resettlement and rehabilitative services using a dynamic framework?

As an office we have no prior experience of this commissioning approach.

Q10: What progress has been made so far in the commissioning of services through the dynamic framework?

It is our understanding that there have been delays with this and that the current situation is that organisations are currently applying to be part of the framework.

Transition

Q11: CRCs and NPS staff are being brought back together under the new model. How is this transition being managed?

This is something we have no knowledge of.

Q12: CRCs currently use several different operating systems – how easy will it be to merge these into one model? Do you foresee any challenges?

This is something we have no knowledge of.

Q13: What impact is the transition having on the voluntary/third sector organisations already providing probation services?

We are not aware of any at the present time.

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?

This timescale appears very tight to us especially when there have already been delays as a result of Covid 19. Have NPS anticipated and planned for further delays should there be a 2nd or 3rd wave of Coronavirus? The commissioning of services, training/preparing staff for the changes and making arrangements for resources and buildings can take a significant amount of time.

All of the above but as mentioned below, consideration of what NPS will do if CRC staff decide not to TUPE across.

Workforce

Q15: Does the new model address workload issues, e.g. high caseloads, recruitment/retention?

In our view and knowledge of our local CRC the new model should have a contingency for significant numbers of KSSCRC workers not wishing to TUPE across to the NPS.

Q16: What progress has been made towards probation being recognised as a “skilled profession”?

We are aware that this is an aspiration of the new model but are unaware of any progress having been made.

Covid-19

Q17: What impact has Covid-19 had on the probation service?

Like many front line organisations we are aware that the probation service has had to adjust its ways of working to protect staff and clients. Anecdotally we have heard that contact, albeit virtually, has been more regular and that some clients have responded well to this approach. For others, the lack of face to face contact has been detrimental.

Q18: What lessons have been learnt from this period of Exceptional Delivery, that should be taken forward into the new model of probation delivery?

We are not well enough cited on this to comment.

Other

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)

 

September 2020