How Effective are Probation Services?

 In my current job role as a paralegal, I see many of my clients receiving probation sentences, however, the vast majority of the clients revert back to offending within weeks of this sentence being imposed. Prior to being sentenced, offenders are required to undertake a pre-sentence report interview. In this interview, their dangerousness and possibility of re-offending is assessed by a probation officer of whom extracts from the offender, all details of their lives from growing up to the offence itself. This report allows the probation service to assess whether a probation sentence is applicable to this offender and if so, what restrictions and monitoring needs to be put into place to safeguard the offender and the community.

The National Probation Service and community rehabilitation services make up the probation services in England and Wales. However, currently they are under extreme strain caused by understaffing and increased crime rates. The current model for reforming the probation service, is the transforming rehabilitation model, however, this has been reported as ‘irredeemably flawed’ (Her Majesty’s inspectorate of probation, 2019) Chief inspector of probation, Dame Glenys Stacey, recognises the below current strains on the probation service causing underperformance and less effectiveness:

  • NPS and CRC failing to meet specific set targets- ‘NPS are performing better overall, whereas eight out of ten CRCs expected this year received the lowest possible rating- ‘Inadequate’ ‘ (Her Majesty’s inspectorate of probation, 2019)
  • National shortage of qualified professionals, resulting in too much reliance on those who are unqualified
  • The relationship between the individual and the probation worker is not as it should be in day-to-day work

Her Majesty’s inspectorate of probation, The transforming rehabilitation model for probation service is irredeemably flawed, 2019. [Online] Accessible via: https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprobation/media/press-releases/2019/03/reportofthechiefinspectorofprobation/ [Last accessed 16th May 2020]

By Shelby Keppel

Paralegal

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