Bronwen Elphick, Probation Director North East, left, and Barry Coppinger, PCC for Cleveland
Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger has welcomed news that probation services are to be taken back into public ownership – and has flagged the local rehabilitation model as an example for the rest of the country to follow.
Durham Tees Valley Community Rehabilitation Company (DTVCRC) was set up in 2014 and supervises around 3,600 low and medium risk offenders released on community order or prison licence throughout the Durham and Teesside area.
It is the only not-for-profit CRC in the country, was the highest scoring of the 21 CRCs in the most recent inspections by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation and was one of only two to achieve an overall “Good” rating.
Under new changes, announced by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, all CRCs will be disbanded next year and the work will be taken over by the National Probation Service.
Crucially, there will continue to be a role for local criminal justice and voluntary sector organisations and the PCC will seek assurance that the dedicated and highly skilled workforce currently employed by DTVCRC are protected and retained in these changes.
Mr Coppinger said the announcement was a step in the right direction and that the change needed to be seamless to encourage locally delivered, innovative solutions to promote rehabilitation and tackle re-offending.
Two such innovative schemes, led by the Commissioner and delivered in partnership with DTVCRC, recently attracted praise from the national watchdog.
The Heroin Assisted Treatment programme aims to turn round the lives of Middlesbrough’s most entrenched street heroin users and reduce the enormous cost to local residents, business and public services.
The Cleveland Divert programme is an adult deferred prosecution scheme which aims to keep low-level, first-time offenders out of the criminal justice system by supporting them and offering them the chance to tackle the key reasons behind their offending behaviour.
Mr Coppinger said: “Now that the Government has recognised that privatisation was a mistake, I believe a nationalised version of our model, placing social value and changing lives at the heart of its work, rather than financial gain, can be a template for best practice across the country.”
He added: “We have won praise for the strong and effective partnership working we have in this area and the innovative approaches we have brought to tackling difficult challenges, such as heroin dependency, which have blighted our communities for so long.
“DTVCRC can be very proud of its work which provided the best solution given the Government’s flawed privatisation experiment.
“I’m pleased that probation will in future be delivered as a public service, though it is essential that this delivery is properly funded and devolved to ensure there is local management and accountability.”
Posted on Monday 15th June 2020