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Probation union Napo has called on ministers to abandon plans to remarket rehabilitation services after the current model was branded “irredeemably flawed” in an annual report published by probation chief inspector Dame Glenys Stacey today (Thursday 28th March 2019).

Commenting on the findings, Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence said: “This latest contribution by the chief inspector and her team is not only testimony to their excellent work, but it endorses the conclusions of two Parliamentary Committees and our expert practitioner members that the earlier ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ reforms have been a complete disaster, and have failed to deliver what was promised.”

This latest report vindicates Napo’s claims that the current CRC contracts (which will terminate early in December 2020), have significantly failed in a number of key areas, including public safety, and have only been sustained due to numerous taxpayer-funded bailouts as the operational costs increased well above the contractors’ original expectations.

Ian Lawrence went on to say: “The chief inspector has highlighted the fact that not only have the Community Rehabilitation Companies delivered sub-standard services, but the National Probation Service also has significant failings. Staff shortages and a reduction in professional standards have resulted in unmanageable workloads across the board. In London alone, staff vacancies are running at 20%, so it’s clear that the NPS is not sustainable in its current form.”

Increased workloads and staff shortages have had a ripple effect, with there being a significant rise in serious further offences, and 38% of magistrates indicating they have less confidence in probation now than they had under previous arrangements.

The Ministry of Justice plans to let 10 new contracts later this year which will see an increase in the size of the existing Community Rehabilitation Companies but a reduction in the number of private providers. The proposals have attracted massive criticism from stakeholders across the justice system who are also joining the call by Napo and Dame Glenys Stacey for ministers to halt the programme and consider an alternative model.

Napo agrees with the key conclusions of the HMIP report that probation services must be evidence-based to command the confidence of the public and the judiciary, with a focus on victims and the needs of those being supervised. The union also welcomes the suggestion that a regulatory body should be established to ensure high quality standards of probation delivery in the future.



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