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Probation Scorecard raises many concerns
MoJ annual Community Performance statistics publish the probation scorecard which raises many concerns

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Community performance annual

I’m still working my way through the dozen statistical bulletins and annual reports all published by the MoJ on 27 July 2023. Today I’m looking at the Community Performance Annual report which sets out statistics on Probation Performance from April 2022 to March 2023, incorporating management information on accommodation and employment outcomes for supervised individuals.

The headline findings are:

  • Only two of twelve regions are operating at a ‘good’ level – all other regions are rated as either ‘requiring improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.
  • On a national level, only 10 out of 26 probation service levels were above or equal to their target for 2022-23.
  • Two out of three Commissioned Rehabilitative Services (CRS) were not hitting their target.
  • More probationers are finding jobs.
  • Accommodation targets are stable.
  • In total 5,796 people have been placed in CAS3 accommodation between 1st July 2021 and 31st March 2023.

Probation scorecard

The Probation Scorecard was developed alongside the Probation Performance Framework. It pulls out the core measures (OSAG quality audits, and management information from data recorded by regions) to show a more complete picture of performance in the probation system.

The Probation Scorecard Rating is assigned using the total score the region achieved as a percentage of the maximum possible score achievable. The table I  have below shows the ratings and the thresholds for those ratings:

Regional performance

The chart I have reproduced below shows the overall rating for each region. For the performance year 2022-23, no region received a score of 4 (Outstanding), two out of the twelve regions (Greater Manchester and Wales) received a score of 3 (Good), six scored at the “improvement required” level and four “inadequate”.

Performance

The report says that performance has improved in the last quarter with 20 out of 22 probation service levels better in the first quarter of this year. Nonetheless, some levels remain well shy of their target levels:

  • Only 57.5% of targeted interventions for sex offenders are completed (against a paltry target of 67.6%)
  • Just over three quarters (76.5%) of sentence requirements are completed before the sentence expires, again against what appears to be an unambitious target of 81.3%. Unpaid work completions are still only 50.6% as the service is still struggling with the pandemic backlog.
  • A somewhat staggering 40.5% of accredited programmes are completed.
  • Unsurprisingly, given what we know about OMiC, only just over half (51.2%) handover meetings between the Prison and Community offender managers take place.

Employment

It is great to be able to say that performance on helping people find employment is much better with 16.4% people employed 6 weeks post release and 26.4$ in work 6 months after release. The equivalent figure for people on community sentences is 41.8%.

Accommodation

In the year to March 2023, 86.3% of prison leavers were housed on the night following release. This is down slightly from 86.8% in the previous year, a 0.5 percentage point decrease. Of the twelve reported regions across England and Wales, five regions saw an increase in the proportion of prisoners housed on the night following release from the previous year.

In the year to March 2023, 75.6% of prison leavers were in settled accommodation 3 months post release (excluding cases out of scope or where the status was unknown), this is up slightly from 75.3% in the previous year, a 0.3 percentage point increase. Of the twelve reported regions across England and Wales, five regions saw an increase in the proportion of prison leavers in settled accommodation at 3 months post release.

In the year to March 2023, 85.1% of persons sentenced to a community order were in settled accommodation 3 months post their sentence (excluding cases out of scope or where the status was unknown). This is up slightly from 84.8% in the previous year, a 0.3 percentage point increase. Of the twelve reported regions across England and Wales, seven regions saw an increase in the proportion of persons sentenced to a community order who were in settled accommodation 3 months post their sentence.

Conclusion

Although these figures are of some interest, it is clear that the more detailed examination of performance at a PDU (and regional) level by HM Inspectorate of Probation gives a more reliable indicator of performance. Sadly, of the 32 PDUs which have been inspected since reunification, sixteen of these have been rated “inadequate” (the lowest possible ranking) and fifteen as “requiring improvement”. Just one PDU, South Tyneside & Gateshead was rated “good”. Although staffing levels have started to improve, this is still to translate into better performance. You can see my unofficial league table (based on the inspectorate’s ratings) here.

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