Time for a rethink as probation crisis deepens

Date: 
Thursday, 15 December, 2016

The Centre's Director, Richard Garside, has today called on the government to get a grip on the problem of a rapidly deteriorating probation service.

His call comes in response to the latest report from the Probation Inspectorate, into probation work in North London.

The Inspectorate found that the service had deteriorated since its previous inspection in 2014, prior to the 'Transforming Rehabilitation' privatisation of probation.

The private company responsible for the Community Rehabilitation Company in north London – MTC Novo – was judged to be poor, with a 'combination of unmanageable caseloads, inexperienced officers, extremely poor oversight and a lack of senior management focus and control'. Some people under probation supervision 'were not seen for weeks or months, and some were lost in the system altogether'.

The Inspectorate also found that, 'despite the heroic efforts of some staff' they 'were sometimes working long hours and were often "fire-fighting" rather than enabled to deliver a professional service consistently or sufficiently well'.

The public sector National Probation Service was working better, though there remained room for improvement.

Speaking today, Richard said:

Though a report on one probation area, its findings echo similar problems found up and down the country. Something has gone badly wrong, and very quickly, with the probation service.

The government needs to get a grip of the situation and re-establish probation on a coherent and sustainable footing. This could well mean doing the previously unthinkable: recreating a unified, public sector probation service, organised locally and coordinated nationally.