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Transforming Rehabilitation: the government working on announced radical changes for Probation

Posted: 21st May 2013 by Essex CRC.
Transforming Rehabilitation Response
Transforming Rehabilitation Response

Two years will see most of Probation’s work delivered by a variety of organisations:

Minister of State for Justice Chris Grayling has introduced his plans to change the way probation services are delivered, to be implemented within two years. Probation’s work in assessment of offenders, alongside its expertise in dealing with dangerous offenders, will both remain within the ‘Protected’ services, with other related work, to form a new public sector National Probation Service. The remaining 70% of Probation’s work will be competed, to which end the Government has created twenty-one ‘competition Package areas’, joining up some Trusts and leaving seven Trusts, including Essex, as single areas.

Whatever the change in structures we have experienced, Essex Probation has always worked hard to achieve the maximum benefit from them for our county in terms of cutting crime and rehabilitating offenders. We aim to continue to do this. We are proud of our performance on behalf of our community. Reoffending rates for those on community sentences are just over three in ten. (For Community Payback, it is as low as 2 in 10). Reoffending for those sentenced to under 12 months in prison averages at nearly 6 in 10. For some categories, it is higher than this (Put simply, 6 out of 10 ex-prisoners reoffend, whereas 6 out of 10 don’t for similar offenders on community sentences).

We will aim to make the reforms work in a way which will help to ensure continuing protection for the people of Essex.

We agree with the Minister that:

  1. Our work with the most dangerous offenders is vital in protecting our communities. There are relatively very few dangerous offenders who commit further serious offences. Essex Probation, working with Essex Police and other agencies under our MAPPA system, has proved its worth.
  2. There needs to be a relentless focus on rehabilitation.
  3. We need effective services delivered to a greater number of offenders, particularly on release from prison
  4. Realigning the prison system to create resettlement prisons can help ensure that resettlement is a priority, rather than expecting imprisonment itself to deter individuals from future crime. It doesn’t.
  5. Under-twelve-month prisoners have needed attention for a very long time, and Probation has not had that remit for many years. Some of this group commits the highest volume of crime, and has a big menu of difficulties that lead to crime. They need addressing systematically to get them back onto the straight and narrow, and we welcome the fact that this is the Minister’s concern. Our recent work with Essex Police on “Integrated offender Management” for this group is proving how much can be done.
  6. A mixed economy of providers is how Probation works best. When we bring in a range of expertise, for instance in drug and alcohol work, mental health, or job finding and accommodation assistance, and when we align ourselves with partners who can deliver, the better the outcome, as we work together with other agencies.
  7. The need to work with local authorities, Police and Crime Commissioners, and other government departments, is paramount. Our colleagues in Essex are already involved with our work, and this has proved hugely important in getting the results we need.
  8. Mentoring can make a good contribution to the support people need when they return to the community after a prison sentence. We have set up such a scheme in Essex.
  9. People who have somewhere to live, and a job to go to, are much more likely to take what we have to offer in terms of rehabilitation, and stop committing crime as a result. When this happens, this is a big win for all of us in the community.
  10. Discretion and flexibility in decisions about what is provided is important for professionals who know the business of working with offenders. This flexibility has not been available to us for some time.
  11. The needs of women offenders need to be considered and responded to differently to ensure success with them. The Essex Probation Women’s Project is one such initiative which aims to provide what women offenders need.

Currently:

The government plans to commission about 70% of our services across 21 ‘contract package’ areas. This will mean joining up what are currently Probation Trusts, apart from seven, one of which is Essex, which will stand alone.

We expect that larger organisations, such as Serco and G4S, for instance, will bid, and may then contract out work to smaller organisations in the third sector. Currently some experienced staff from Essex Probation are looking at forming a Mutual.

The other 30% of our work with Higher Risk offenders will form part of the National Probation Service.

Assessment of risk, and our work in the courts, will continue. How the all-important re-evaluating of the offender’s risk as supervision develops, and how the offender will move between different organisations if risk escalates or becomes less, are details which will be decided.