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Shropshire probation services need to improve - report

By James Pugh | Crime | Published:

Probation services in Shropshire need to improve, according to a new report.

The private company which cares for lower level offenders needs to do more in cases of domestic abuse and involving safeguarding children, according to HM Chief Inspector of Probation.

Inspectors found that the private Warwickshire & West Mercia Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), which supervises medium and lower risk offenders, compared well against other CRCs in England and Wales in terms of national performance targets.

But, the CRC was assessed as poor in key areas of work, including protecting potential victims from the risk posed by people under supervision. This work required improvement, particularly, in cases of domestic abuse and those involving the safeguarding of children.

The report has been published today by Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation.

The report, based on an inspection in July, noted: “The organisation was being driven by performance targets, as one might expect, and there was a strong central drive to discern how to meet targets and then do so.

“Managers and practitioners both recognised that this had little to do with delivering positive outcomes for individual offenders. Success in managing performance targets was not matched by efforts to maintain and raise the quality of offender management and to achieve positive outcomes with offenders.”

Dame Glenys noted that the CRC did some things well – including delivering effective unpaid work and providing services to women. Staff had manageable workloads, but staff supervision and oversight were inadequate.

Like other CRCs, the Warwickshire & West Mercia CRC “has had to make compromises in the way it operates, for financial and other reasons” but better overall performance should be within its grasp, Dame Glenys added.

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“Substantial cuts in CRC funding to partners supplying effective interventions are on the cards. That is particularly regrettable, given that interventions delivered by this CRC’s providers appear to be generally well regarded, and as other aspects of the CRC’s offender management are so wanting.”

The inspection also covered the work in West Mercia of the Midlands division of the public National Probation Service (NPS), which supervises higher-risk offenders.

Dame Glenys said the NPS had experienced staff who managed offenders well and delivered good-quality interventions overall.

However, she added that despite NPS leaders’ clear intentions, NPS staff were not using the wide range of interventions – programmes to support offenders – that were on offer from the CRC to the extent expected.

“Offenders may be denied the best help as a result, and the interventions themselves will be less viable over time, if they are not used enough. This is not the first time we have found this situation, and I urge the NPS to review the position nationally.”

No one from the CRC was available to comment on the findings of the report.

James Pugh

By James Pugh
@JamesP_Star

Chief reporter at the Shropshire Star covering north Shropshire based at the head office in Ketley.

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