Serious issues have been examined by the Committee
In 2014 and 2015 the Government introduced major structural changes to the probation system, known as Transforming Rehabilitation (TR), which included reforms to who delivered probation services and what was delivered as part of probation.
In the Report, the Committee examines the many serious issues that have arisen as part of TR and proposes a range of short and medium-term solutions.
MPs conclude that the scale of the issues facing the sector is of great concern given evidence suggesting that if probation services are delivered well, they can have a positive impact on both individuals receiving probation support and wider society.
The Committee welcomes some steps taken by the Ministry of Justice to respond to the issues facing the sector.
Ministry of Justice must initiate a review
The Report recommends that the Ministry of Justice must initiate a review into the long-term future and sustainability of delivering probation services under the models introduced by the TR reforms, including how performance under the TR system might compare to an alternative system for delivering probation.
The Committee calls for the findings of the review to be published by 1 February 2019.
Current probation system is 'currently a mess'
Chair of the Justice Committee, Bob Neill MP, said:
“Transforming Rehabilitation was designed by the Government to improve the way offenders are managed in the community and reduce reoffending.
The TR reforms had some laudable aims but these reforms have failed to meet them.
We are unconvinced that TR will ever deliver the kind of probation service we need.
There are major questions to be answered on a whole range of issues including the support people get when they leave custody, the performance of probation providers, contracts with CRCs, poor staff morale and the involvement of the voluntary sector.
This has a negative impact on the number of individuals who go on to reoffend.
Hard working and dedicated staff are doing their best with a probation system that is currently a mess.
We have heard first-hand the impact that the current probation system is having on those that are receiving probation services.
It cannot be right for an individual to leave custody with £46 to last them a number of weeks, nowhere to live and no job.
A cross-Government approach needs to be taken to remedy this situation and I welcome indications from the Minister that the Government know they need to do more to resolve some of these challenges.
We are calling on the MoJ to undertake a thorough review of the reforms.
Given the issues which have arisen due to the speedy implementation of the TR reforms and lack of piloting, any new model must be thoroughly planned and tested. Ministers have to get this right.”