COMMONS

Justice Committee - weekly update

17 May 2019

At the end of sitting weeks the Justice Committee publishes a brief summary of its activities in the form of a weekly update.

This week (commencing 13 May 2019)

Evidence session

On Tuesday, we took evidence from HM Chief Inspector of Probation, Dame Glenys Stacey, on the subject of her Annual Report.

The Committee were particularly interested in Dame Glenys’ views on the Government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme, which we reported on last year. Dame Glenys told us:

  • That the split in probation services and the over-emphasis on ‘contractual measures’ has seen ‘the profession diminished and the nature of probation moving away from an established evidence base’.
  • That the way that cases involving Serious Further Offences ‘are reviewed needs to change as well’, and saw a role for HMI Probation in doing so
  • Of a need to ensure that any future model of probation was ‘an evidence-based service’, and that offender management in future ‘should be in the arms of the state’.

 

Government publishes its response to its consultation ‘Strengthening Probation, Building Confidence’

On Thursday, the Government published its response to its consultation ‘Strengthening Probation, Building Confidence’. 

The consultation announced it would give the National Probation Service responsibility for managing all offenders on a community sentences or license following release from prison in England and Wales.

Bob Neill MP, Chair of the Committee, welcomed the changes:

"We said back in June last year that the probation system was a mess.

Staff morale was at an all-time low, offenders weren’t getting the support they needed, magistrates were losing confidence in supervision and the voluntary sector was being pushed out.

I am glad to see that the Government has finally listened to my Committee’s concerns about the model for probation. We were unconvinced that the model of splitting offenders by risk could ever work.

The HMI Probation told my Committee on Tuesday that it is impossible to reduce probation relationships to a set of contractual requirements.

What is important now is that there is a smooth transition from the current model to the next’.

Published correspondence

Future business

The Committee will next meet in public on 21 May 2019 at 10.00am. 

We will hold our first public evidence session of our inquiry into Court and Tribunal Reform.

The inquiry was launched in January 2019 to understand the impact of HMCTS’ court reform programme on access to justice, and its full terms of reference can be found here.

We are taking evidence from:

  • John Bache JP, Chair, Magistrates Association
  • Chris Henley QC, Chair, Criminal Bar Association
  • Detective Chief Inspector Craig Kirby, Thames Valley Police
  • Matt O'Brien, Chair, Criminal Law Committee of Birmingham Law Society
  • Harriet Bosnyak, Solicitor, Shelter
  • Tessa Buchanan, Housing Law Practitioners Association
  • Richard Miller, Head of Justice, The Law Society of England and Wales

If you wish to watch in person from the public gallery you can. The meeting will be in Committee Room 20, Palace of Westminster. 

Further information

Follow the Justice Committee on Twitter for updates on the Committee's activity, news, and announcements. 

Image: iStockPhoto

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