Skip to main content

Role of the Probation Service

20 July 2010

Image of UK Parliament portcullis

The Justice Select Committee is to launch an inquiry into the probation service, it was announced today. The Committee is calling for written evidence and is particularly interested in receiving evidence which addresses the following questions:

• 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.

Call for evidence: Written evidence should be in Word or rich text format with as little use of colour or logos as possible, and sent by e-mail to

The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from. The deadline for submissions is 13 September 2010.

Submissions must address the terms of reference. They should be in the format of a self-contained memorandum and should be no more than 3,000 words. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document must include an executive summary. Further guidance on the submission of evidence can be found at Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere, though previously published work can be referred to in a submission and submitted as supplementary material. Once submitted, your submission becomes the property of the Committee and no public use should be made of it unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee.


 The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to publish the written evidence it receives, either by printing the evidence, publishing it on the internet or making it publicly available through the Parliamentary Archives.

If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure; the Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence. For data protection purposes, it would be helpful if individuals wishing to submit written evidence send their contact details in a covering letter or e-mail.

You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.