Failed probation service risking public safety

Ross Bryant
Ross Bryant

A shocking report comes to light

A damning report into Devon and Cornwall’s probation service has found serious shortcomings that could have put the public at risk.

The firm Working-links which ran the service went into administration last week.

The company ran three probation service contracts for the government across the West Country.

The report was chaired by Dame Glenys Stacey and has highlighted a number of failings with the privatised probation services. The Dorset, Devon and  Cornwall Community Rehabilitation Service, which was run by Working-Links provides rehabilitation services for prisoners, with the aim of reducing the number of reoffenders.

The company works with low and medium risk offenders either on parole or newly released from prison.

The report found that the service was “not anywhere near the expected standard”.

Staff skills, inadequate  leadership and poor IT infrastructure were all highlighted in the report.  A spokesperson for the HM Inspectorate of Probation said: “The need for an urgent government response, in the interests of protecting the public, is underlined by a deeply troubling report released today by Dame Glenys, following an inspection of one of the Working Links.”

Dame Glenys said “This should be a turning point. Ministers recently took the decision to terminate all 21 CRC contracts early, next year. The Secretary of State is now considering what comes next. Our CRC inspection evidence shows a variable picture but it is one in which the provision of services in most cases is wanting, often significantly so.

‘We find probation services delivered by the
National Probation Service, for higher risk individuals, to be good, overall. It is not easy to change the model for delivery by CRCs of a complex service for over 154,000 medium and lower-risk offenders every year.

But the future model must preserve the ethos of probation, and respect and nurture the probation profession itself. The alternative is made clear in the thoroughly dispiriting Dorset, Devon and Cornwall CRC report.”