20th Aug, 2019

Probation services in Warwickshire failing to keep people safe

Laura Kearns 17th Jul, 2019 Updated: 17th Jul, 2019

PROBATION services in Warwickshire are failing to keep people safe says a damning report.

HM Inspectorate of Probation found Warwickshire and West Mercia Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) ‘required improvements’ in seven of ten categories assessed.

The service supervises some 260,000 adults annually, through serving community orders, supervising those released from prison, assessing the risk offenders serve the the community, helping rehabilitate for drug and alcohol misuse and monitoring whether court requirements were being complied with.

Inspector Justin Russell said the CRC needed to improve its approach to keeping people safe, and there was not enough focus on protecting victims and potential victims.

He also raised concerns about some aspects of work around safeguarding children and the ‘lack of understanding’ about potential for harm.

The inspection earlier this year also found officers were not doing enough to ensure offenders were completing the work needed to reduce reoffending, there were often long waits to start rehabilitation programmes.

The report stated it was not uncommon for people to wait between six months to a year, and when they did start a course only a third of people completed it successfully.

Some 3,000 staff work for the service across 21 privately owned companies and the publicly-owned National Probation Service. Less than half of those interviewed as part of the inspection said they found their workload manageable.

Mr Russell offered advice to the service including the need to improve measures to protect victims of domestic abuse and safeguarding children, and ensure work was completed by those convicted to reduce the likelihood of them reoffending.

Currently nearly 45 per cent of those dealt with by the service in Warwickshire and West Mercia go on to reoffend.

Mr Russell said: “Probation staff are not focusing sufficiently on protecting victims and potential victims, and some aspects of their work to safeguard children leaves me with concern.

“I hope senior leaders will work quickly to take account of the findings of this inspection. They have shown they can deliver in some areas – now they need to deliver across the whole of what they do.”

But there were some plus points with the service rated ‘good’ on the three remaining quality standards.

The report said they were doing an ‘outstanding job’ of assessing the best way to encourage people to comply with their sentences and offering support to those leaving prison.

The probation service says it is making changes following the inspectors recommendations.

A CRC spokeswoman told the Observer: “We have considered carefully the recommendations set out in the report and have submitted a robust and comprehensive action plan to the chief inspector. We are committed to meeting our obligations to public and child protection and safeguarding, and to managing any possible risks to known and potential victims.

“We continue to work closely with the chief inspector and his team to ensure their recommendations are addressed, and that our team continues to support the rehabilitation of offenders while ensuring the protection of vulnerable members of our community.”

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