A new, unified probation service has been launched in England and Wales. The service has been renationalised after an unsuccessful attempt to delegate work to private companies. It has also been given greater funding and will work to new national standards.
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Renationalised probation service
Back in 2015, the National Probation Service began delegating some of its workload to private companies, known as Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs). There was widespread criticism of the privatisation at the time, and the following years did little to assuage concerns. One assessment said the services provided by the CRCs was “mixed and patchy” or “chaotic and inadequate”. Further reports were also highly damning, with one suggesting that staff did not have the skills, experience or time to supervise offenders properly.
The government has now done a U–turn, nationalising the probation service once again. CRC contracts have been brought to an early end, meaning the probation service will now deal with all low, medium and high–risk offenders. There will be twelve regional areas with a new specialist National Security Division tasked explicitly with monitoring terrorists, serious organised criminals and very high–risk offenders.
National standards refreshed
Not only has the probation service been renationalised, but it has been given extra funding. The intention is to double the number of probation officers. The service is set to work more closely with the police, NHS, and local authorities. It will also be working to new national standards. For example, probation officers must now have at least one face to face meeting with all supervised offenders once a month. Additional meetings will be required for higher–risk offenders.
For the first time in its history, probation staff will now visit offenders in their homes. The aim of this is to “protect children, partners and other family members from domestic and sexual abuse.” An increase in monitoring is also set to take place using devices such as electronic monitoring, GPS and sobriety tags
It is hoped these measures will improve the support provided by the probation service, whose primary aim is to rehabilitate offenders and prevent re–offending.
Tackling the drivers of crime
Along with these measures, extra investment in tackling the drivers of crime has been announced. Charities and companies will be involved to provide and signpost support in employment, housing advice and mental healthcare. This will include homeless prison leavers being given temporary accommodation.
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This news may be interesting to our clients, many of whom are under probation.
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