Early implementation 2
The latest probation inspection report has found there are still major implementation problems with the new split probation system known as Transforming Rehabilitation.
The report, the first from new Chief Inspector Paul Wilson, found:
- Serious problems with the new Risk of Serious Recidivism tool
- It was common for significant sections of the Case Allocation System form to have no information
- Staff from both the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies continue to be obstructed by poor IT
- There were not sufficient resources invested in one third of CRC cases
- Relations between staff in the NPS and CRCs remained “very positive”
The report, formally entitled “Transforming Rehabilitation Early Implementation 2: an independent inspection of the arrangements for offender supervision”, was published on 19 May 2015 and was based on inspections in four NPS/CRC areas. It follows on from the first “Early Implementation” report published on 15 December 2014. The report focuses on five key areas.
Assisting sentence and the allocation of cases
The inspection is very critical of the way in which the Risk of Serious Recidivism (RSR) tool has been introduced. NPS staff said that the rollout had been rushed and piecemeal and the inspectors agreed, judging the overall process to be “inefficient and time-consuming”. Critically, a detailed analysis undertaken by the inspectors showed that the scores recorded on the RSR were sometimes unreliable.
The inspectors found that, due to the added burden of work introduced by TR, the risk of harm screenings were often incomplete, unreliable or not completed at all.
Inspectors did find that in the large majority of cases (96%) were allocated to the correct agency promptly.
Early work in the CRCs
The inspectors found that most cases were assigned to an identified offender manager promptly, and the OM saw the offender for the first appointment in 70% cases, with the rest usually seen on a group or duty induction process.
However, inspectors were critical about the standard of work, assessing it as superficial in many cases:
“We found too many cases where the reasons behind the offender’s behaviour were not sufficiently explored. We also found that too many cases had no plan to describe the work that would be undertaken with the offender to modify their behaviour.”
Early work in the NPS
Again, most cases were assigned to an offender manager promptly and a large majority (26/30) were seen by their OM within five working days.
The inspectors were critical of practice saying that although staff had assessed potential barriers to compliance, this was often not reflected in supervision plan and plans also lacked appropriate objectives. Worryingly, “there was often not a good quality analysis of the risk of harm or plan to manage the risk.”
Although the sample of cases where enforcement was an issue was small, inspectors found that these cases were managed appropriately and that they were generally good working relationships between the CRC and NPS breach teams.
The escalation processes – when an offender’s level of risk is judged to have increased and they need to be referred back from a CRC to the NPS – have clearly still not bedded in. The inspectors found a number of problems but found it hard to assess practice thoroughly because of the poor quality of management information which they found was “a reflection of the poor quality data found in case files.”
Some of the cases inspected were from very early in the TR process, and inspectors concluded that “it is possible performance is now improved “. A more detailed examination of the escalation process is a priority for the next round of inspections.
It is probably not surprising that the findings of this inspection are predominantly negative. TR was a very rushed process and it’s reasonable to expect major problems at such an early stage of such a fundamental redesign of the probation service.
However, this is the second broadly negative report and the MoJ will be hoping for substantial improvements by the next one.