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Rehabilitation Transformed? (Chapter 1 – the beginning)

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Probation is changing, and don’t we know about it, or maybe not. Whatever the case, over the next few weeks I will be delving into the transformation of the UK’s Rehabilitation Process, to give you a recruiters insight in to the ever changing world of Probation, and overall Rehabilitation.

Now just to clarify, so there is no misunderstanding with the heading of this document, TR (Transforming Rehabilitation) did officially launch in July 2014 but 2010 is a noteworthy year for TR and can be considered as the birth of TR. So let’s go back to December 2010 and start from the beginning when this was the issue raised by the Coalition Government at the time.

Issue


Half of the crime in this country is committed by previous offenders, who have already been through the rehabilitation process. The UK spends between £9 - £13 billion per year to facilitate and rehabilitate offenders.

In 2013 there were 514,000 adult and juvenile offenders with 136,000 of these people being found guilty of reoffending within a year – that’s a 26.4% reoffending rate. Some people may be forgiven for thinking, that ‘tougher sentencing’ or ‘harsher conditions’ may be the answer but unfortunately prison doesn’t have the best record for reducing reoffending either. For example: 46% of adults released are reconvicted within 12 months. It gets worse when you look at shorter term sentences (less than 12 months) where this figure grows to 58%!

Now there are some scary figures right there, in a Britain where the talk of budgets and deficits is now the norm and the chancellors red briefcase has reached an almost celebrity status it is own right, £13,000,000,000 every year is a huge dent in our countries coffers.

Despite this spending and previous changes in both government and policy, reoffending rates have continued to remain high while we continued to spend on the system in place; so they decided the UK needs to change what it is doing completely and re-invent rehabilitation in order to ensure Criminals receive firstly, proper punishment, but also all required support to reduce recidivism. So surely this TR thing must be good for us?

Let’s take a look at the action plan set out to bring forth the change that was so needed.

Actions


They said they would reduce crime by:
• “Using a ‘payment by results’ approach to develop and implement effective ways of rehabilitating offenders and rewarding providers that devise and deliver the most effective rehabilitation programmes
• Providing effective community-based punishments, such as the wider use of electronic tagging
• Providing more meaningful and productive work and training for prisoners while in prison
• Preventing drug abuse inside prisons and providing drugs counselling after release, or when serving a community sentence
• Engaging drug misusing offenders as early as possible in their contact with the criminal justice system, from drug testing on arrest through to post-release care
• Using integrated offender management to better manage offenders by getting partner agencies to work together
• Supporting offenders to resettle in their communities, to become more employable and find work
• On behalf of victims, establishing a clearer basis for restorative justice
• We’ll also keep our communities safe by extending the offences that the police can prosecute and speeding up justice”

Now the world of policy is not the fastest moving snail on the track, and it wasn’t until July of 2014 where these ideas, thoughts and policies actually came in to effect.

To understand the reaction of those involved we need to first better understand the changes that were being suggested. Much of what is listed above was very much in effect at the time. Things such as ‘community-based punishments, such as tagging’ or “Preventing drug abuse inside prisons” is not really transformative, more of a re-enforcement or a slight re-tinkering. Much of this to most of us will be obvious - if someone is offending because of a drug habit/addiction, then naturally the best course of action is to put an end to this habit (how we go about doing so, is a whole different subject in its own right).

The one point that raised many eyebrows, and certainly caused the biggest stir, is point number 1: “Using a ‘payment by results’ approach”. Behind this thinly veiled sentence is another word we are all too familiar with – Privatisation – and this is where we shall put our focus for the time being. In my experience as a Probation Specialist Recruiter, I work with temporary workers and managers from all walks of probation, ‘payment by results’ has had - and continues to make - the biggest impact to the daily lives of not just offenders, but Probation Professionals on all levels. This was viewed as a positive move by the MOJ and NOMS, and they have continued to support it throughout, the theory is actually fairly simple.

In the past the old Probation Trusts, which were run (largely speaking) County to County, e.g. The Greater Manchester Probation Trust or The Hertfordshire Probation Trust etc. These trusts would deal the Probation aspect of all offenders, both pre-sentence, pre-release and in the community. Qualified Probation Officers would deal with all Offenders, but more importantly were the only ones who were able to deal with High and Very High Risk offenders, and were charged with most of the court and report writing aspect of the role. Unqualified staff would deal with Low and Medium risk offenders only.

TR makes this divide a little wider, the idea was to spit Probation down the middle, and create 2 new bodies to deal with categorised offenders, this saw the birth of the National Probation Service (a Public body also known as the NPS) and the Community Rehabilitation Companies (Private companies now known mainly as CRC’s). The NPS was to take charge of all high and very high risk offenders, and any court related work (i.e. Pre-Sentence Report Writing), along with any work with the Youth Offending Teams, and Approved Premises, they also were to take responsibility of Offenders in Prison. The CRC’s were to be responsible for all low and medium risk offenders; they would also take over the Unpaid Work Programme.

The NPS would remain in the hands of the public, but ownership of the CRC’s was to be passed in to Private hands, with Private companies given the chance to bid for the ownership of one or more CRC. In total there were to be 21 CRC’s all with geographical boundaries, this involved the mergers of quite a few of the old county trusts, for example the Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire CRC came in to existence, combining 3 big counties in to one company. Each would receive part of the money needed to run the service & the rest would only be paid if they improved the service provided – thereby saving the country some money if they failed & costing only a little more than the old model if & when they improved things.

At the same time, it was decided that it would be better for the NPS to have slightly bigger divisions and they were split into 7 segments, again geographic, for example, the NPS North East Division or the NPS South West and South Central Division.

It is now nearly a year after the CRC’s were sold, their transformation of rehabilitation is very much still a work in progress… But more on that next time, please keep an eye out for the second part of this dialogue, which will look to bring us to the present day and look at what changes have already been implemented and in that process delve further in to the work of the NPS and CRC’s.

Thank you very much for your time.
Javid Patel
Team Leader – Probation North
Service Care Solutions.
Tagged In: Probation
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