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Probation reforms incomplete, expensive and not joined-up say PCCs

Ron and Barry

Durham Police, Crime and Victims Commissioner Ron Hogg and Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, and Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner for Durham, Ron Hogg, have released the below statement in response to the announcement made by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) last week regarding Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC) contracts:

“We have known for a long time that the current probation model is flawed.  Indeed we told Ministers it was flawed before it had even been introduced. The consultation document ‘Strengthening probation, building confidence’ makes it clear that we were right, and in a number of areas the quality of probation services being delivered is falling well short of what is needed,  despite the hard work and dedication of staff working within the service.

“The inflexibility of the CRC contracts is having a negative impact on our ability to effectively reduce offending and reoffending in our area or to provide opportunities for local innovation and partnership working.

“We now understand the Government are spending £500m extra to prop up a system that has been discredited by PCCs; by the all-party Justice Parliamentary Select Committee; and by the Independent Inspector of Probation.

“We are particularly disappointed that this announcement has been made two days after Parliament went into recess – meaning our local elected representatives are unable to hold Ministers to account for these proposals.

“The Government began its national reforms in 2015 by abolishing 35 Independent Probation Trusts - including our own high-performing Durham-Tees Valley. They then went on to create 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) across the country; only to scrap the contracts two years early to replace them with 10 new CRC contract areas, including one for the whole North East.

“To move to a North East-wide service will distance further local decision making for Cleveland, County Durham and Darlington, as well as limiting partnership working with voluntary organisations who don’t operate at a regional level.

“In our opinion, a complete overhaul of rehabilitative services is needed to improve outcomes for offenders across Cleveland, County Durham and Darlington.   Investment in Transforming Rehabilitation must be routed through PCCs, who could then commission services suitable for local needs.  

However, if the government are determined to press ahead with this inefficient model, we recommend the five following conditions:

  1. It must become mandatory for PCCs to sit on CRC boards, as representatives elected by the public to take responsibility for community safety and criminal justice.
  2. It must become mandatory for PCCs to access all CRC performance data, in order for them to use their scrutiny powers to hold CRCs to account for their efficiency and effectiveness.
  3. CRCs must be compelled as a ‘responsible authority’ under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, to ensure they continue to be key partners in working to reduce crime and disorder.
  4. PCCs should have the opportunity to bid for resources to fund a more partnership focused approach.
  5. There must be a requirement for CRCs to consult with PCCs about commissioning of services at a local level, in order to reduce duplication and increase effectiveness.

“We will continue to lobby at a local and national level for changes to the current model and a more effective wholesale reform of rehabilitation services for offenders across Cleveland, County Durham and Darlington.

“In our response to the MoJ consultation, we will be putting forward reforms to their proposals to ensure our communities are better served by Transforming Rehabilitation.”

 

Posted on Wednesday 1st August 2018
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