What do you want to know about the new probation system?
Regular readers are well aware that senior civil servants at the MoJ have spent the last 10 months redesigning the probation service following the then Justice Secretary David Gauke’s announcement that the split private/public model of probation introduced by Transforming Rehabilitation was not performing to an acceptable level and that all offender management work will be returned to the public sector National Probation Service. Under the revised model, each of 12 new NPS regions in England and Wales will have a dedicated private or voluntary sector “Probation Delivery Partner” responsible for the direct provision of unpaid work and accredited programmes.
HMPPS are keen to share the rationale behind the new model and got in touch with me recently to ask whether I’d like to interview Jim Barton and Ian Barrow, the civil servants leading the changes to the probation service. Jim is the Senior Responsible Officer for the Probation Reform Programme while Ian is the SRO for the Probation Workforce Programme.
I decided that the most interesting way to proceed would be to engage readers in the process by asking you to suggest key issues and questions that you would like Jim and Ian to answer.
It seems to me that this crowdsourcing approach means that those working in the probation arena – whether for the National Probation Service, Community Rehabilitation Companies or for voluntary sector or other organisations working with offenders – get to set the agenda for the interview.
At the same time, the fact that I will forward a set of questions in writing to Jim and Ian gives them the best opportunity to provide a full response which, I hope, also sets out some of the rationale behind their thinking.
So do please send me your questions. You can do this either by email, clicking on this link or via the comments section below this post.
I will then decide which questions to forward on to HMPPS on the basis of selecting the most common themes.
I will publish a blog post which includes all the questions submitted to me and the ones that I have chosen to forward onto HMPPS so that you can all appraise my refereeing performance.
The goal is to publish HMPPS’ answers to these questions to coincide with the launch of the workforce strategy and draft target operating model. For this reason, the deadline for submitting questions is midnight this Sunday 8th March.
I would ask you to bear in mind that like all civil servants, Jim and Ian are charged with delivering the blueprint agreed by Ministers. It is the Government which has decided on the new model which, while returning offender management to public sector probation, still maintains a private/voluntary sector market for the delivery of unpaid work and accredited programmes.
So, Jim & Ian will be duty-bound to answer questions, however difficult, on issues relating to the design of the new model, its new structures, the workforce consequences and the transition process. By the same token, they will not be able to answer questions on historical questions relating to the original TR programme.
I very much hope you will want to get involved and look forward to reading your questions.