Is everything going well with the reform of the Probation Service?

Not if you read a recent exchange this month (Feb 2015) on the floor of the House of Lords.

Following what must have been a lacklustre response from the Minister Lord Ramsbotham said “When I was Chief Inspector of Prisons, I used to tell Ministers that they could accept either observed facts from me or unobserved fudge from officials, but that improvements could follow only on facts. Since the Secretary of State denied parliamentary approval of the rushed Transforming Rehabilitation timetable, it has slipped. Among many other problems, community rehabilitation companies have been given only a bare five weeks to mobilise when they say that they need six months, and community probation service officers, for example, are having to perform tasks with high-risk offenders for which they are not qualified. Clearly, all is not well. Will the Minister please tell the House when the Government will give the public the facts rather than fudge about the delivery of probation services?”

Lord Beecham then put the boot in further “In the course of court hearings over a challenge to the legality of the Government’s proceeding with the contracts for the 21 community rehabilitation companies, a number of concerns were raised. These related to problems with IT, the management of sensitive victim information, lost records of offender contacts, staff shortages, delays in pre-sentence and standard reports, and more besides.”

​What have the 21 community rehabilitation companies have to say? Well very little as apparently rumour has it  they have all been instructed to act like the 3 wise monkey’s, hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil, until after the general election in May or face dire consequences.

In the meantime what we really need to do is set up a service to advise, assist and befriend offenders, rather than create shareholder value.

My apologies to the Government but I edited out “unobserved fudge” it is after all my blog.


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