• Are probation services currently commissioned in the most appropriate way?
• How effectively are probation trusts operating in practice? What is the role of the probation service in delivering “offender management" and how does it operate in practice?
• Are magistrates and judges able to utilise fully the requirements that can be attached to community sentences? How effectively are these requirements being delivered?
• What role should the private and voluntary sectors play in the delivery of probation services?
• Does the probation service have the capacity to cope with a move away from short custodial sentences?
• Could probation trusts make more use of restorative justice?
• Does the probation service handle different groups of offenders appropriately, e.g. women, young adults, black and minority ethnic people, and high and medium risk offenders?
• Is the provision of training adequate?
Background: Following the creation of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) which brought together prisons and probation in 2004, the previous Government carried out a programme of reform, converting probation boards into probation trusts, which are contracted to deliver local probation services. This was to be followed by the introduction of competition for some aspects of delivery. In addition, the concept of “offender management” has evolved considerably since the Offender Management Act 2007 was passed. The coalition Government has announced that it wishes to introduce a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ that will pay independent providers to reduce reoffending, paid for by the savings this new approach could generate within the criminal justice system.
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