Transforming Rehabilitation is Cancelled
11 June 2020 will go down as an important day in the history of the probation service. At noon today, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland announced the end of the government’s badly flawed Transforming Rehabilitation programme. Attributing the change in the MoJ’s plan to COVID-19, he said that offender management will return to the NPS in June 2021 and that the planned outsourcing of unpaid work and accredited programmes will be cancelled with responsibility for thees also returned to the public probation service. Staff currently working for CRCs will be able to transfer either to the NPS or to organisations delivering resettlement services via the Dynamic Framework.
The Justice Secretary said that there will remain a role for the voluntary and private sectors in delivering rehabilitative services under the Dynamic Purchasing Framework. The Dynamic Framework will be opened for registration in the “coming days”. The total budget is likely to be £100m, a fraction of the value of current CRC contracts and much less than in the model announced last year.
It was in July 2018 that the MoJ announced its decision to cut short the contracts of the private Community Rehabilitation Companies and re-model probation although it also said it intended to keep the public/private split with CRCs continuing to supervise low- and medium-risk offenders. Under pressure from Chief Probation Inspector Dame Glenys Stacey, the Public Accounts and Justice Committees and the National Audit Office, the MoJ changed its mind in May 2019 and decided that the National Probation Service would be responsible for all offender management with the CRC successor organisations (renamed as Probation Delivery Partners) able to bid to deliver unpaid work and accredited programmes.
The MoJ has now changed its mind again and returned to a wholly public sector probation service, making many of us wonder about the purpose of the massive disruption of the last seven years.
The current Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell commented:
“The Transforming Rehabilitation reforms have severely tested the probation service over the past five years. Fundamental flaws in the original design of the contracts, particularly the payment by results mechanism, have starved Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) of essential funding. This has had a significant impact on the quality of supervision many CRCs have been able to deliver.
Today’s announcement is likely to be welcomed by many, but it is not a magic bullet for improving performance by itself. The probation service must be properly funded. The quality of probation supervision will not improve merely by lifting and shifting large volumes of cases from CRCs back into the NPS next year. Vacancies for probation officers must be filled and staff properly trained for their new responsibilities. The positive innovations that CRCs have brought with them – including decent office accommodation and a commitment to involving ex-service users in delivery – must not be lost.”
You can see my potted history of the whole Transforming Rehabilitation experiment in my updated timeline graphic below.
This post will be updated when more information becomes available.