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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

Massive variation in private probation performance

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MoJ performance stats show public probation outperforming new private providers and wide variation in the performance of Community Rehabilitation Companies.

Public probation outperforming private providers

Last week, the MoJ published its latest stats on the performance of both parts of the probation service (the public National Probation Service and 21 private Community Rehabilitation Companies) and the electronic monitoring providers.

The Community Performance Quarterly Management Information Release (Jul 16 – Sep 16) does not provide reoffending information since they are not yet available for CRCs but provides information on:

  • 17 CRC Service level measures;
  • 7 CRC assurance metrics; and
  • 25 NPS service level measures.

Before we look at some of the findings, it is only fair to note the MoJ’s observation:

A decrease in recorded performance is noted in September across a number of Service Levels, for both NPS and CRCs. This coincided with a major update to the national Case Management System (Delius) during this month, which involved a number occasions where providers were unable to access the system. Although business continuity plans are put in place in these instances, it is reasonable to expect that this would be a contributory factor to the performance levels observed in that month.

CRC performance

The performance tables show the performance of each of the 21 CRCs against the contract target in percentage terms as well as comparing their individual performance against the previous quarter (measures are only excluded if there was no data provided in the report):

As you can see, performance either exceeds or more or less meets performance for nine of these 18 measures, is poor (my definition of which is 5-10 percentage points below target) for six measures and terrible (more than 10 percentage points below target) for three measures: assessing prisoners for HDC/ROTL (- 12 percentage points); breach referral timeliness (-17) and finding accommodation for released prisoners (-20).

A notable achievement is that 76% of offenders completed their licence supervision against a target of 65%.

The other interesting feature is the variability of performance, not just between CRCs but on different measures within the same CRC. For instance, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland CRC scored very poorly on a number of measures (including 3,4 & 10) but exceeded targets for others (measures 10 and 11).

NPS Performance

The NPS performance tables shows the performance of the seven NPS divisions against their targets in percentage terms and, again, compares their performance against the previous quarter: (measures are only excluded if there was no data provided in the report)

As you can see, overall NPS performance was better than that of CRCs; exceeding or more or less achieving targets in 12/17 measures and performing poorly on just four: timely initial contact with offenders on community orders (-5 percentage points); completing plans for retained persons (-5); timely allocation of unpaid work (-6); breach timeliness (-5) and completion rates of those on licence (-8).

Variation in performance was also less extreme, with the Wales division frequently the worst performer.

Conclusion

Overall, the findings of the probation inspectorate are borne out with the National Probation Service generally performing at a higher level than its private sector counterparts.

The one noticeable exception is in the important measure of completion of licences where CRCs are exceeding the 65% target by 11 percentage points whilst the NPS is falling short by 8 percentage points.

This quarterly performance bulletin should become increasingly reliable over time and by the end of this year should be accurately measuring performance with the new providers having had time to bed in their new approaches.

 

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All Probation Posts are sponsored by Unilink

With over 20 years’ experience in the criminal justice sector, Unilink is a world leader in probation and community corrections software applications, as well as prisoner self-service, prisoner/case management and prisoner communications. Unilink’s integrated suite of products provide a complete digital solution enabling efficient running of prisons and probation. Underpinned by biometrics it integrates seamlessly to deliver security, efficiency and value – while being proven to help rehabilitate prisoners.

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