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On Probation

Energising the debate on Transforming Rehabilitation – UPDATE

TR provokes strong feelings with some seeing it as an opportunity to improve the quality and effectiveness of work done to reduce reoffending and others maintaining that it is mainly about privatisation and will result in a poorer service. This fundamental difference of opinion has led to a somewhat stagnant debate in recent months. So, I decided to try to liven up the debate, and widen its scope by engaging some new participants…

On Probation

Latest probation reducing reoffending rates

The latest MoJ reoffending rates show that probation trusts continue to reduce reoffending even under the pressure of the proposed wholescale changes under the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation agenda. This overall good progress does, however, conceal a considerable variation between trusts.

Commissioning

When Police Commissioners rule the world…

I’ve never really understood why right-wing think tanks have been such strong advocates of Police and Crime Commissioners expanding their powers at such an early stage in their existence. Reform published a report before PCCs were even elected which advocated that they should be in control not only of local police and criminal justice agencies but the fire and rescue and ambulance services too. Yesterday, Policy Exchange published Power Down: A plan for a cheaper, more effective justice system which again placed PCCs at the centre of change.

On Probation

Dear Mr Grayling… My Transforming Rehabilitation wish list

Like a young child writing to Santa, I don’t quite know where to begin with my wish list of all the things I’d like to know from NOMS before the Transforming Rehabilitation procurement process starts in earnest. Perhaps the obvious first request is to know when the PQQ process is going to start and end? And will it be the rumoured “light touch” process to ensure that most new entrants, including probation mutuals, will have a good chance of getting through? Or will it be the (also rumoured)…

On Probation

Paying for the wrong results?

The MoJ published their initial payment mechanism for the Transforming Rehabilitation contracts back on 3rd June and asked for feedback. They are currently developing a final version which should be published before the procurement process starts – scheduled for 23rd August. Last week, the Social Market Foundation published a paper by its director Ian Mulheirn which analysed the payment mechanism in forensic detail and came up with the devastating conclusion that : The payment mechanism encourages providers to cut spending on services and allow reoffending to drift marginally upwards.

On Probation

Relationships and ongoing assessment are key to reducing reoffending

The authors noted that assessment of some needs (particularly “Attitudes” and education and training) tended to be more accurate later in the community sentence, when the Offender Manager had developed a relationship with the person they were supervising. Similarly, offenders’ feedback on their Community Order was particularly positive when they perceived that the Offender Manager understood their needs. There seem to be two key lessons to be drawn from this research for those planning new models of service delivery…

Commissioning

What can Transforming Rehabilitation learn from the Work Programme?

Once again, the intensely party political shaping of public policy makes for uncomfortable results. It takes a politician with the drive and uncompromising approach of Chris Grayling to effect change within a five year cycle. But there is not sufficient time to establish a properly thought-through model which has a decent chance of delivering improved public services. In some ways Transforming Rehabilitation crystallises this problem – the payment by results pilots were cancelled in order to focus on a rapid roll-out of a completely untested model.

On Probation

The latest on re-offending rates

Last week the MoJ published the latest data on re-offending rates. These figures will be scrutinised more closely than ever given the upcoming privatisation of the probation service via the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation project.
Proponents and critics of TR will seek to find ammunition for their cause. And those seeking to win the new reoffending contracts will be delving into the small print. I’ve done some very basic analysis to try to identify key trends…

Commissioning

Will the new Transforming Rehabilitation market work?

The Institute for Government identifies four key challenges to Transforming Rehabiliation – the probation outsourcing project. It argues that the MoJ needs to improve its stewardship of the market and slow down the pace of change. There are major concerns that the outsourcing of prisons, probation, electronic tagging and court enforcement services simultaneously means that none of these will be well managed in the public interest.

On Probation

What will happen to the prison population under Transforming Rehabilitation?

One of the key changes under the Offender Rehabilitation Bill currently working its way through Parliament is that short term prisoners will receive mandatory supervision on release. Although this development is broadly welcomed, one of the consequences will be that some of these prisoners will not comply with supervision and therefore will be breached and returned to prison. The recently updated impact assessment of the Offender Rehabilitation Bill estimated that 13,000 short term prisoners will be returned to prison because they will breach the new mandatory period of supervision on release. I can see two other factors which will drive up the custody rate…

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