The two organisations providing probation services in Greater Manchester were working well in some respects, but needed to do more to reduce reoffending, said Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation.
The Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) also needed to do more to protect the public, she added as she published the report of a recent inspection of probation work in Greater Manchester.
The inspection looked at the quality of probation work carried out by the CRC and the National Probation Service (NPS) and assessed the effectiveness of work undertaken locally with people who have offended.
Overall, the quality of the Cheshire and Greater Manchester’s CRC’s work was mixed. The CRC is applying the same innovative way of working in each of the five CRCs it owns, based on solid research into what makes people turn away from crime.
Despite this, leaders were finding it hard to embed in practice. Public protection work was not good enough because policies and procedures, though commendable, were not being applied consistently enough by frontline staff to protect actual or potential victims from the risk of harm.
Sickness absence rates were high in the CRC and individual caseloads had been large in the months before the inspection. This led to cases moving from one Responsible Officer to another, making it difficult to keep hold of the meaningful relationships so central to good rehabilitative work and reducing reoffending. Extra staff had recently been recruited, which should improve the quality of work and staff morale.
The CRC was delivering impressive services for women, supported by additional funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner.
In common with other regions, the NPS had experienced less change and was more settled. Staff morale was relatively high and good core work to protect the public was carried out, though there was more to do on delivering rehabilitation work consistently.
The former Greater Manchester Probation Trust was last inspected 2011, when work was largely done well and only moderate improvements were required. Since then, probation services had undergone significant changes as a result of the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme. In June 2014, Probation Trusts were abolished and probation work was divided between two separate organisations.
Inspectors made recommendations which included the NPS accessing the range of accredited and non-accredited programmes and services on offer from the CRC to reduce reoffending, and the CRC providing all staff, and especially new staff, with regular supervision and training. The CRC should also improve the effectiveness of the management of unpaid work.
Dame Glenys Stacey said:
“Both the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Company worked well with offenders to help them keep to the terms of their sentences. Both organisations were keen to improve where necessary and to help those being supervised to turn their lives around and reduce reoffending in Greater Manchester.
“The Westminster government is soon to devolve significant powers, including over criminal justice, to Greater Manchester. Both organisations were working in anticipation of this, and were well placed to respond, having already built up strong local partnerships.”