Napo, the largest trade union within the probation service has reacted with anger to the latest findings from a report by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Probation into the services offered to perpetrators of domestic violence and the potential impact on victims.
Napo had raised concerns even before Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) was implemented by the former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling that the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) would not be able to meet the level of effectiveness required for public protection in domestic violence cases. They felt that this was in part due to their need to prioritise profit driven targets rather than spending resources on complex cases that may give little in the way of financial return.
Napo members have regularly reported being under excessive workloads following massive job cuts since CRCs took over responsibility for supervising low and medium risk offenders. This means less time for face-to-face work and detailed risk assessments of clients. On top of that members have also told their union that they are required to take on ever more complex cases beyond their training and experience as professional standards and appropriate training are eroded while the CRCs look to make even more cost savings.
Ian Lawrence General Secretary said:
“These findings will cause outrage amongst our hard pressed members and further demonstrate how the whole of probation has fallen into absolute chaos since TR. The government must take immediate action and bring the probation service back into public ownership as a matter of urgency. This report clearly shows how failing to do so is a direct risk to public safety and the Secretary of State is quite literally putting people’s lives at risk. Our members cannot be expected to carry out their highly skilled professional work in these circumstances.”
Napo is aware that the 21 CRC contracts do not stipulate clearly enough that the Probation Officer qualification is critical in safely supervising complex cases where domestic violence is a factor and that providers have been using less qualified staff as a result in order to further reduce their overheads. Napo warned that this process of work on the cheap would ultimately impact on public protection, a vital role of the probation service. Given this damming report, Napo will be calling on the Secretary of State and Parliament urgently to intervene and to stop the continued “marketization” of probation.