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The latest on TR: Policy  Operating model Commissioning Timeline U-Turns

Table of Contents

This Transforming Rehabilitation Resource Pack is continuously updated with key policy announcements, results, inspections etc. TR started in 2014, the CRC contracts were cut short in July 2018 and offender management was returned to the National Probation Service in May 2019 with a decision to fully re-nationalise the service announced on 11 June 2020. The service will be formally reunified on 26 June 2021. All feedback gratefully received.

Last update: 10 March 2021.


Transforming Rehabilitation was the MoJ’s project for the biggest overhaul of probation since its origins in 1907. The MoJ published the original consultation paper: “Transforming Rehabilitation: A revolution in the way we manage offenders” in January 2013 before setting out a strategy in May of that year, describing the key components of TR as:

  • A new public sector National Probation Service will be created, working to protect the public and building upon the expertise and professionalism which are already in place.
  • For the first time in recent history, every offender released from custody will receive statutory supervision and rehabilitation in the community.  We are legislating to extend this statutory supervision and rehabilitation to all 50,000 of the most prolific group of offenders – those sentenced to less than 12 months in custody.
  • A nationwide ‘through the prison gate’ resettlement service will be put in place, meaning most offenders are given continuous support by one provider from custody into the community.  We will support this by ensuring that most offenders are held in a prison designated to their area for at least three months before release.
  • The market will be opened up to a diverse range of new rehabilitation providers, so that we get the best out of the public, voluntary and private sectors, at the local as well as national level.
  • New payment incentives for market providers to focus relentlessly on reforming offenders will be introduced, giving providers flexibility to do what works and freedom from bureaucracy, but only paying them in full for real reductions in reoffending.

As a result the probation service was split into the National Probation Service which serviced the courts and supervised all high risk offenders and 21 new, private Community Rehabilitation Companies who supervised medium and low risk offenders. The new providers started work in February 2015.


You can see a full timeline below which details a number of critical reports; the final blow was probably the Chief Inspector of Probation, Dame Glenys Stacey’s annual report published in December 2017 which concluded that:

  • TR was not working.
  • The Community Rehabilitation Companies in particular were under-funded.
  • Any probation system which does not guarantee consistency in offender manager-offender relationships is unlikely to work
  • Any model which abandons specialist interventions for offenders which have been proved to be effective is flawed.

Acknowledgement of problems

 Justice Secretary David Gauke acknowledged these failings on 27 July 2018 and announced major changes including the cutting short by 14 months of the CRC contracts and a re-modeling of TR, although at this stage the MoJ remained committed to a split public/private system. 

On the same day, the MoJ published a public consultation into the future of probation which ended on 21 September 2018.

Ongoing Crisis

On 15 February 2019, Working Links which operated three CRCs in the South-West and Wales went into administration, the same day that Probation Inspectors rated the service in Dorset, Devon & Cornwall as inadequate. Seetec, the company which runs the CRC in Kent, Surrey & Sussex took over responsibility.

On 15 March 2019, Interserve, which operated five CRCs under the Purple Futures brand, also went into administration. The company will be sold to its lenders and change name with the CRCs (and other businesses) continuing to operate, at least in the short term.

The number of critical reports continued:

  • The National Audit Office warned the government about continuing with a split system in their extremely critical  progress review of TR published on 1 March 2019.
  • Chief Probation Inspector Dame Glenys Stacey annual report published on 28 March described TR as irredeemably flawed.
  • The Public Accounts Committee published a further progress review of TR on 3 May which found probation to be underfunded, fragile and to have lost the confidence of sentencers.


On 16 May 2019, Justice Secretary David Gauke announced a major change in the TR model. The MoJ accepted that the split private/public model was not working and announced that all offender management work would be returned to the public sector National Probation Service. Under the revised model, each of the eleven NPS regions in England and Wales will have a dedicated, private or voluntary sector ‘Innovation Partner’ – responsible for direct provision of unpaid work and accredited programmes. The MoJ also announced that the new model will give local criminal justice partners a direct role in commissioning services together with the NPS. [Please note: These plans were amended to a total of 12 new regions with the name of new private/voluntary sector providers changed to: Probation Delivery Partners.]

It took the Ministry a long time to come to this decision and it is clear that there remain many details to be worked out. For instance, no new target operating model was published alongside the announcement and is still awaited at the time of this latest update (28 November 2019).

On 26 November, the MoJ published the formal contract notice inviting tenders. 

The total value of the new contracts will be £1,263 million (or £1.23 billion) over five years and the exact wording of the competition notice is:

“The authority seeks suppliers to deliver high volume standardised interventions and rehabilitative services covering unpaid work, accredited programmes and other structured interventions in the areas of emotional management, domestic abuse and attitude, thinking and behaviours. Suppliers will work collaboratively with the National Probation Service improving quality and helping innovate in the delivery of the services. The contract will enable effective partnering with the flexibility to commission additional optional services.”

The contract is split into 12 lots – one for each region – with a value varying from £66 million in the North-East up to £184 million in London. While initial contracts are for five years, there is the possibility of extending them to eight years with six possible extension periods of six months each.

The closing date for organisations who wish to  enter the competition is 12 noon on 16 December 2019. This is merely the pre-qualifying stage with the full competition taking place next year.


On 11 June 2020, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland announced that not only would all offender management be returned to the National Probation Service from June 2021 but that unpaid work and accredited programmes would also be delivered in house.

The proposed future model for probation

The final version of the Target Operating Model was published on 10 February 2021. When I was training to be a probation officer in the 1980s, the trinity of probation tasks was (and had been for many years) “Advise, Assist & Befriend”. That model is long gone but it has taken until now for a new trinity to be established. The core role of the modern probation service is to; “Assess, Protect & Change”.You can see my summary of the main points here.


The Dynamic Framework is the main opportunity for voluntary organisations of all sizes to deliver services through the probation system and competition is due to launch soon. However, the Covid-19 pandemic presents challenges in terms of the government running this commissioning process, and for charities to engage in it.

The commissioning process will run in two parts. The first part is qualification – where organisations can apply to be listed on the framework. This is due to run in June 2020.

MoJ and HMPPS have indicated that the qualification process for the Dynamic Framework will be short and simple, involving some basic questions about the organisations and the services it hopes to run, and two case studies of their work. To qualify, organisations should pre-register their interest here.

The timing of the second part of the process, when organisations who have qualified can compete to deliver services is yet to be determined.

Workforce strategy

HMPPS published a new probation workforce strategy on 30 July 2020 which made a commitment to recruit an extra 1,000 probation trainees within the current financial year as well as improving conditions of service and wellbeing support. The strategy also commits to a more diverse workforce, including better pathways for people with criminal convictions, and an accelerated promotion path between PSO and PO.

Procurement Timeline

It is no longer clear what the procurement process timeline is. The MoJ has removed unpaid work and accredited programmes from the outsourcing process, returning them to the NPS. They Dynamic Framework commissioning process has also been derailed by the coronavirus pandemic. When a new timeline is agreed, I will make it available here.

Transforming Rehabilitation Timeline

Key reports

You can read my blog posts summarising the main milestones and reports on Transforming Rehabilitation by clicking in the grid below. The reports are in reverse chronological order, the most recent first.

Current CRC providers

The formal contract notice was published on 19 September 2013; England and Wales were divided into 21 Contract Package Areas.

35 organisations entered the TR competition and 30 of these were adjudged by the MoJ to meet the PQQ criteria.

On 29 October 2014, the MoJ announced its preferred bidders to run the Community Rehabilitation Companies in these areas. The eight new providers of probation were confirmed when the contracts were signed on 18 December. as shown in the map below.

As you can see, the big winners are:

  • Sodexo and NACRO have been successful in six CRCs
  • Interserve who are leading partnerships in five CRCs
  • MTCNovo, a Joint Venture between MTC and a number of other organisations, have won London and Thames Valley.
  • Working Links are the preferred bidders in three CRCs (but went into administration on 15 Feb 2019, with Seetec taking over).
  • The Reducing Reoffending Partnership (a Joint Venture between Ingeus, St Giles Trust and CRI) will run the two large Midlands CRCs (Staffs & West Mids and Derby, Leicester, Notts & Rutland).

A probation staff mutual was part of the winning bid with Working Links although the mutual’s primary service delivery function will be in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall only. Two probation staff Community Interest Companies are part of the winning partnerships in Durham Tees Valley and London respectively.

On 11 June 2020, the MoJ confirmed that these CRC contracts will be terminated in June 2020.

The 11 new probation regions (+ Wales)

Current Performance

The (totally unofficial) league table I’ve constructed below enables three types of comparisons:

  1. How National Probation Service divisions and Community Rehabilitation Companies compare with their peers.
  2. How NPS divisions are performing compared with the CRCs in their area.
  3. How probation organisations compare in different areas of performance: leadership, case assessment, court reports, unpaid work etc.

The league table benefits from the robust new scoring methodology adopted by Her Majesty’s Inspection of Probation earlier this year. The new system involves inspecting a single organisation (either a CRC or an NPS division) and giving that organisation one of four overall ratings: outstanding; good; requires improvement or poor.

Inspectors give individual ratings for ten different domains set out in detail in the infographic below but covering three main headings:

  1. Organisational delivery
  2. Case supervision
  3. NPS/CRC specific work

The league table is updated on the publication of every new area inspection report.

Further Resources

Further Resources

You can find further information and keep up with all the latest news and developments in the world of probation via the three main sections below.

HM Inspectorate of Probation Reports

Click here to see my summaries of all HMI Probation reports since the launch of TR.

Probation practice & Research

Click here to see all the latest developments in probation policy, practice & research.

Transforming Rehabilitation

Click here to see all the original official MoJ documents for the initial launch of TR.

This page was last updated on 10 March 2021

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