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Your chance to ask questions of the civil servants re-designing the probation service.

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Strengthening probation

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.

A draft operating blueprint was published last June and the MoJ have been consulting widely. A second version  was published on 3 March and can be found here.

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.

Get involved

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.

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9 Responses

  1. What gender specific framework will be implemented for women under probation and what will change from the current failing delivery network in the way women are dealt with? Will Womens Centres still have a punitive role and be able to effect recall or punishment of the feel a woman is being non compliant with the terms of a community disposal with their organisation?
    What will w done to accommodate new findings and statements by the Royal College of Psychologists concerning the treatment of Personality Disorder within the Female PD Offender Pathways?

  2. Hi Russell I am a PO in NPS there appears to be a high staff turnover due to mental health problems/ burn out/ stress etc. This may be linked to high case loads and the extreme nature of having to deal with high risk sexual and violent offenders. Is there going to be any support for staff to help them stay healthy. Thanks

  3. Hey Russell

    I’m concerned for the future of Resettlement Services (currently the ETTG service). As an SPO, working across several TTG teams, I’m conscious that there is a risk that the skills and knowledge of the Resettlement Teams may be lost. I’ve worked in probation long enough to remember that resettlement service’s based in community teams are not as effective as the prison based system we have now.

    My questions:
    1. What will the future Resettlement Service look like – will it be prison based or community based
    2. Will current TTG staff have a role in the future model
    3. Will Resettlement Services be absorbed into the NPS or be a seperate contract

    In a recent HMIP insepection our TTG area recieved an Outstanding.
    It would be a real shame for this fantastic service, with all the benefits and advantages of being embedded and integrated within prison, which delivers meaningful outcomes for prisoners, to be diluted or even lost.

  4. Hi Russell,

    I am pleased that the draft Target Operating Model makes reference to the Victim Contact Scheme (VCS) and recognises that it is essential that victims have access to high quality, timely and effective support.
    I am also reassured that there is an acknowledgement that building the capability of National Probation Service Victim Liaison Officers (VLOs) will be central to driving a high-quality information service for victims in the scheme.
    What I am concerned about is the processes for the VLOs to receive the information that they are required to communicate to VCS members and I am disappointed that there is no reference to this. I would welcome Ian and Jim’s views on how we ensure that information on key sentence developments is communicated quickly to the VLOs. At the moment, there is the risk that because that route of information is solely through the Offender Manager, there can be delays in it reaching the VLO and therefore the VCS member, because for example, the OM is on leave etc.
    I believe there are simple, cost free ways that we can enhance the information flow and provide a better service to VCS members by working with our justice colleagues and I would like to see this implemented in the future model.


  5. I read before on this website that there was to be a pilot scheme for PSOs to take part in a fast-track scheme to qualify, however I can no longer find it, please could you direct me to this or advise whether this is still in the pipeline to go ahead as employer does not know anything about it? Thanks

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