NOMS Annual Report
The latest annual report of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) which is responsible for prisons and probation has just (15 June 2015) been published.
Michael Spurr, NOMS Chief Exec and respected by many in the field, could not but refer to a “particularly challenging” year in his foreword. Given the radical redesign/privatisation of the probation service and the very substantial funding cuts to both prisons and probation, it is hard not to think that this translates from Civil Servant Speak as”the most difficult in living memory”.
But what can we learn from the report?
Here are my snippets which might be of interest:
1. Budget cut by £149 million in 2014/15
A total of £900 million (24%) has disappeared from the NOMS budget since 2010/11.
2. There are 46,442 employees working in NOMS
55% are men and 45% women (there are many more men working in prisons and many more women working in the National Probation Service)
3. Sickness rates have risen
To an average of 11.3 days per person per year from 10.5 the previous year.
4. The backlog of oral parole hearings is expected to rise in 2015/16
To the equivalent of 650-700 prison places!
5. The Prison Unit Cost Programme is expected to report in 2016.
This programme consists of three related projects: Delivering the Public Sector Benchmark, Reconfiguring the Prison Estate and Competing the Delivery of Services. The overall aim is to reduce the unit cost of prison while maintaining safety and decency and optimising outcomes to protect the public and reduce reoffending.
6. Four (current and ex) probation chiefs were made OBEs
David Chantler (West Mercia), Annette Hennessy (Merseyside), Heather Munro (London) and Tessa Webb (Hertfordshire)
7. In the first half of the year, prison numbers were above published projections.
New houseblocks at four prisons provided an additional 1,200 places – but see the Howard League on prison overcrowding.
8. Restricted Release on Temporary Licence was introduced
Restricted Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) was introduced for all indeterminate sentence prisoners, any prisoner presenting a high or very high risk of serious harm and MAPPA nominals. This restriction essentially precludes temporary release from closed conditions and introduces a set of stringent processes and monitoring arrangements.
9. Total comprehensive expenditure for 2014/15 was £4.73 billion
Given the frequent negative inspections of both individual prisons and the implementation of Transforming Rehabilitation, I don’t think I’m being unduly cynical to wonder if the current year will be even more “challenging.”