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Annual Probation Inspectorate report

The recent (11 August 2015) annual report from the Probation Inspectorate did not generate the same level of media attention as last month’s final annual report from Prison Chief Inspector Nick Hardwick.

The report itself is a pretty straightforward summary of the inspections undertaken in the last year. The most high profile inspection detailed the difficulties in implementing the new Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) system at some length.

I want to focus on two issues in this blog post; a brief description of the new inspection model and a look at the report’s foreword from new Chief Inspector, Paul Wilson.


New inspection model

TR obviously has significant implications for inspectors as well as practitioners since any inspections of a local area have to investigate the service provided by both the National Probation Service and the local Community Rehabilitation Company and, critically, their level of co-operation.

Probation inspectors have been developing a new inspection methodology since April 2014 and the new model should go live this year. Its main characteristic is a focus on the impact of probation (and youth justice) work as well as its quality.

There are three dimensions to the new model summarised in the graphic below:

probation inspection model

Here is the inspectorate’s description of this tripartite approach:

  • Impact inspection: evaluation of levels of current outcomes of those who have offended in a local area. We will analyse indicators of impact in relation to reoffending, protecting the public from harm, abiding by the sentence, and the current presence of risk/protective factors for future offending. For youth justice, those protective factors will also be focused on child safeguarding and wellbeing. Full implementation of this dimension depends on securing access to national and local datasets, which is yet to be agreed. This dimension will provide judgements of impact.
  • Practice inspection: assessment of the quality of delivery, leadership, public protection and child protection processes in key agencies. This dimension will provide judgements of practice quality.
  • Case reviews: investigates system-wide barriers and enabling factors to individual desistance (and wellbeing in children and young people). This dimension will enable us to better highlight system innovation and issues.


Chief Inspector’s Foreword

In his foreword to the report, Chief Inspector Paul Wilson summarised the inspectors’ findings on the implementation of TR:

[alert-warning]Our early reports highlight significant operational and information sharing concerns across the boundaries of the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies, and continuing frustration with old case management systems. We have found probation areas that had struggled to deliver a quality service prior to Transforming Rehabilitation are now finding it hardest to adapt and cope with the reforms. The correlation between historical performance of former probation trusts and progress made with Transforming Rehabilitation implementation extended into the important issue of staff morale. This speaks to the urgent and continuing need to support the necessary improvement in the quality of leadership and management.[/alert-warning]

He goes on to express the hope that these problems are transitional but concludes with what appears to be a challenge to the new Community Rehabilitation Companies:

[alert-warning]The much bigger challenge for 2015 and beyond will be to turn the rhetoric of innovation and the long advocated extension of services to short term prisoners into hard evidence of effectiveness and reduced rates of reoffending. This will be the true test of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms.[/alert-warning]

I wonder if we will get a definitive answer in next year’s inspectorate report.


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