Written evidence from MTC

About MTC

With a clear mission to support vulnerable people to transform their lives and build safer communities, MTC has a wealth of experience in the justice sector, both in the UK and overseas. We draw upon our expertise in the USA, where we operate over 20 prisons and employ nearly 11,000 people, and have provided education-based rehabilitative interventions to thousands of men and women in custody since 1987.

In the UK we own and operate the London and Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs), which supervise around 34,000 service users. We also operate Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (STC), a purpose-built residential facility for young people between the ages of 12 and 18.


Executive summary

Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) have been responsible for the most significant innovations in probation in recent years. Investments by the private sector – despite the contractual and financial challenges – has resulted in a more transparent, innovative and accountable probation service.


While we were deeply disappointed with the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) decision to end the Probation Delivery Partner (PDP) competition, we want to continue to make clear our commitment to ensure our people and systems return to the National Probation Service (NPS) with a focus on protecting the public.


We believe the current proposals of transitioning services back in-house by June 2021 pose significant risk to employees and the public for the following reasons:









The pandemic has shown the value of the private sector’s flexibility, adaptability and support in times of crises. Our services have proved to be financially and operationally resilient, and responsive to the needs of local people without burdensome bureaucracy.


An extended transition deadline would have provided more time to design a model which is effectively adapted to the long-term impact of COVID-19, when that impact is better understood. The challenges to extending the current contracts, are significantly outweighed by the risks of a programme designed to in-source all CRC services within 10 months.


Our recommendations


We would urge the MoJ to consider:



More importantly it will allow the Transition Programme Team more time to consult with CRCs and their parent organisations to fully understand their operations and better inform transition plans – thus avoiding some of the potentially yet unknown, but inevitable risks.




The Model

Q1: What are your views on the decision to end the competition for Probation Delivery Partners (PDP) and bring those services back into NPS delivery?






Risk to the public


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?



As the range of interventions available from day one of the new unified

model will decrease, sentencers’ options will also decrease – inevitably increasing

their reliance on custodial sentences.



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?


It will be disappointing if the MoJ does not, as appears to be their intention, take

the opportunity to adopt the positive changes providers have made to the service

and how it operates.




















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?



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 (DF)?




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




As the challenge of having insufficiently detailed data was highlighted as one of

the key learnings from TR and the transition in Wales, it is essential the Programme Team dedicate sufficient time to their discovery phase. With just ten months to go until June 2021, and the complexity of the transition ahead, there’s a fear that decisions will be made without sufficient information.


What support is available to staff during this time?



To ensure employees have an opportunity to raise any concerns and feel

supported, we are committed to briefing our senior leaders and people managers

on major transition news – ahead of us cascading it to all our employees – so they

are better prepared to assist their teams.



Our planned series of joint engagement events give employees an opportunity to

hear from, and to ask questions to, senior leaders from both the NPS and MTC.



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?


Extending the transition deadline Attempting to in-source all services in such

a short timeframe is not, in our view, a good balancing of risk. It is not necessary

for the MoJ to take such a rushed approach and risk de-stabilising the service and

exposing the public to undue risk. Extending the transition deadline would have

given them an opportunity to plan more thoroughly and execute the move safely.







If anything, what needs to be taken into consideration during this time?




It would give the Transition Programme Team more time to consult with private

sector organisations to fully understand their operations and better inform

transition plans – thus avoiding some of the potentially yet unknown, but

inevitable, risks.  It would provide contingency and allow things to go wrong –

which is so often the case in challenging programmes like this.





Q15: Does the new model address workload issues eg 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?


Immediate and anticipated long-term impact:



Operating at a reduced capacity:



Need for modern communications:


Q18: What lessons have been learnt from this period of Exceptional Delivery (EDM) 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)







September 2020