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10 things we learnt from the 2020/21 HMPPS Annual report
Key facts from the 2020/21 HMPPS annual report including budgets, recruitment and more.

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The impact of COVID on prisons and probation

Last Thursday (16 December 2021) Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2020 to 21 which outlines how the agency performed in the year ending 31 March 2021. Inevitably, that performance was profoundly shaped by COVID with both the prison and probation service operating severely restricted models in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus. To save you reading all 170 pages of this report, I have picked out 10 facts that I hope will be of interest.

1: HMPPS spent £4.6bn last year

This was split on a 70:30 ratio in favour of prisons and you can see the details in the graphic below.

2: The four principles

HMPPS’ vision has four principles:

  1. Enable people to be their best;
  2. An open, learning culture
  3. Transform through partnerships
  4. Modernise our estates and technology

3: The first secure school

The report confirms that the first secure school will finally open next year, although it steers clear of any indication of when during 2022 this will happen. The school will be on the site of now defunct (and disgraced) Secure Training Centre at Medway and will be run by the Oasis Charitable Trust.

4: The prison estate

There are currently a total of 117 prisons, 104 in the public and 13 in the private sectors. This figure is likely to change over coming years with the government embarked on a big prison building programme.

5: Probation hostels

There are exactly 100 approved premises.

6: Probation performance positives

The proportion of community and suspended sentence orders successfully completed went up for both those supervised by the National Probation Service from 77.1%  in 2019/20 to 80.9% this year and for those supervised by the CRCs from 78.2% to 86%. I don’t think it’s unduly cynical to think that the fact that most people were being supervised by telephone is a contributory factor here.

7: Probation performance negatives

Conversely and, again, almost definitely mainly attributable to the restricted service operated under the pandemic, completion rates for unpaid work fell severely from 90.5% to 59.2% with accredited programme completions plummeting from 84.5% to 34.5%.

8: Youth justice specialists

In 2018, HMPPS introduced the youth justice specialist role and provided funding for every prison officer in the youth secure estate to have the opportunity to obtain a foundation degree in youth justice. By March 2021, the Youth Custody Service had 201 qualified officers already in post, with an additional 227 staff signed up or undertaking learning. A further 100 staff commenced learning in June 2021 with a further cohort to start in October 2022.

9: Recruiting more probation officers

HMPPS increased recruitment in 2020/21 from 600 to 1,000 probation officer trainees and have committed to increasing that further by recruiting 1,500 new probation officer trainees for 2021/22.

10: Probation voluntary and community sector fund

Each of the 12 Regional Probation Directors has been allocated £100,000 to support the work of specialist voluntary sector organisations working with ethnic minority people on probation.


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