An announcement was made last week that all probation services will be re-nationalised, from December 2020.

At present, low and medium risk offenders are managed by community rehabilitation companies, but there has been widespread criticism of some of these organisations.  From December 2020, the management of all offenders will be carried out by the National Probation Service.

The National Audit Office says that problems with the partial privatisation scheme have cost the taxpayer nearly £500m.  In addition, the numbers of offenders being returned to prison for breaching their licence conditions, has ‘skyrocketed’, compared to previous systems.

Justice Secretary David Gauke explained that the system is flawed, and that bringing the care of all offenders back under the auspices of the National Probation Service will be the best way to reduce reoffending, and rehabilitate people.

Gauke also confirmed that while the Community Rehabilitation Companies contracts will not be renewed, there is still a role to be played by private companies and the voluntary sector. Under the new plans, released prisoners, and those serving community sentences, will be monitored by staff from the NPS, in eleven new regions. Each region will have a dedicated private or voluntary sector partner, an ‘Innovation Partner’, which will be responsible for unpaid work schemes, drug misuse programmes and training courses. The new scheme will also loses the controversial element of pay-by-results. The tenders for these contracts will be announced later this year.

There will be a fund of £20m a year to deliver innovative approaches to offender rehabilitation, and a new statutory regulatory framework will be introduced to hold probation officers to the same standards as lawyers and doctors.

For more details, and some interviews with those with experience of the system, see an interesting BBC article. The Press statement from the Justice Secretary is on the Gov.uk website.

The Government has published a document looking at the reform programme.  You can find out more on the Gov.uk website. There are three consultation launch events taking place for the new scheme, on London (28 May), Cardiff (29 May) and Manchester (30 May) and also two webinars about the Scope of Commissioned Services – on 4 and 5 June, for those who want to learn more. Links on the above web page.

Clinks, the umbrella organisation for charities in the criminal justice sector, has published a blog, detailing the 5 things that voluntary organisations need to know, as a result of this.  You can read the whole blog on the Clinks website.