Napo press release: National Audit Office – Transforming Rehabilitation

The following is a press release from Napo regarding the publication of a recent National Audit Office (NAO) report on the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation reforms to probation services. We have explored the NAO report findings and new independent research commissioned by Napo in another blog:

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Napo welcomes the publication of today’s report and the findings highlighted. The implementation of Transforming Rehabilitation has created significant challenges for our members over the last 18 months and this report confirms our ongoing concerns about sustainability and service delivery. The report highlights concerns in both the National Probation Service (NPS) and the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs).

Whilst Napo is working closely with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to develop an improved operating model for the National Probation Service (NPS) it is clear from these findings that much work is still needed to enable the NPS to operate as a national and sustainable service. Of note are the ongoing issues with ICT that prevent both the NPS and the CRCs from operating to their full ability and excessive workloads in the NPS due to higher than expected levels of business and lack of resources. Unless the NPS is fully resourced and there is an ongoing commitment from the MoJ to do so, it runs the risk of staff burn-out, service delivery will be compromised and monitoring of high and very high risk offenders will be reduced.

Lower than expected levels of business for the CRCs has resulted in significant job losses across a large number of CRCs and a significant variation in the performance levels of the CRCs. Napo supports the National Audit Office’s findings that this lack of business creates significant risks that need to be better understood and that these risks hinder the development of innovative ways to reduce re-offending. The MoJ must address this as well as taking a greater interest in the CRCs’ various operating models that, in our view, could pose substantial risks to community safety: for example, reducing levels of staffing and moving to call centre approaches rather than one-to-one supervision of offenders.

Ian Lawrence, General Secretary, said: “Whilst Napo will continue to work with the MoJ this report highlights the need for a greater commitment to resourcing for the NPS alongside greater scrutiny and policing of the contracts. Variations in the CRCs’ performance risks a postcode lottery of probation services across England and Wales and reduced business could see CRCs cutting costs even further as they prioritise commercial interests over reducing re-offending. We hope that CRCs will take heed of our professional input to maintain professional standards.”

It is of concern that 2 CRCs have been financially penalised just 12 months into the contracts’ operational period. The MoJ must provide better performance data to evidence that providers are being held to account and provide value for money whilst also reducing re-offending.

Editors notes:

  1. Approximately 1500 jobs have been lost or are “at risk” in CRCs owned by 5 of the providers. These are Sodexo, Working Links, RRP, Durham Tees Valley and Purple Futures.
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