Report published 3 May 2019. Awaiting government response.
Scope of the inquiry
Probation services are designed to protect the public, reduce reoffending, supervise offenders in the community, oversee their rehabilitation and ensure that offenders understand the impact of their crimes on victims. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ), through HM Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS), is responsible for probation services in England and Wales. As at September 2018, 257,000 offenders were supervised by probation services.
The Committee’s report in March 2018 found that the MoJ was a long way from delivering the ‘rehabilitation revolution’ it had promised. The Committee had first reported on the major reform to probation services in 2014 outlining several risks and challenges. The Committee’s next report in 2016, concluded that the failure to deal with ICT problems and the impact on providers of lower than expected business volumes had undermined the pace of change, and posed a threat to achieving planned outcomes. The Committee added that it was crucial that the MoJ completed the “rehabilitation revolution” it had started and made good on its promise to reduce the huge economic and human cost of reoffending.
Earlier this month, the National Audit Office (NAO) published a report which found that the Ministry has acted on many of the shortcomings in the reforms, including abandoning payment by results. The report, however, also identified risks with its proposals. For example, while the Ministry plans to better align probation regions, it has proposed retaining the split between the National Probation Service (NPS) and Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs), meaning it still faces the challenge of ensuring these services work well together and with the wider system. The MoJ will also need to manage the risks of transitioning to the new contracts and existing providers withdrawing services or failing outright.
The hearing will be an opportunity for Members to question officials from the MoJ about its failure to achieve the objectives of its reforms. Members will also use the session to ensure the Ministry acknowledges the root causes of the reforms’ failure and has learnt from these. Moreover, the Committee will seek to secure commitments that the Ministry will reflect its learning in what will follow these failed reforms and is managing risks effectively.