Inspectors slam Suffolk’s probation services
- Credit: PA
Suffolk's probation services have been accused of a 'total failure' to rehabilitate potentially dangerous offenders leaving victims at risk – particularly in cases of domestic abuse and children.
A damning report published today by HM Inspectorate of Probation found services in Suffolk were 'nowhere near good enough'.
The report found while staff were 'working hard', case loads were 'very high' and morale low, with 'chronic' shortages.
Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, said the two organisations responsible for providing services 'needed to do far more to protect the public, reduce re-offending and make sure people served sentences handed down by the courts'.
A spokesman for the Norfolk and Suffolk CRC said: 'We have taken on board the chief inspector's recommendations and have an action plan in place to address these.'
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A spokesman for the MOJ, which runs the National Probation Service, added: 'We are grateful for HMI Probation's report and we recognise that there is more work to do in Suffolk to ensure probation services in this area improve as quickly as possible.'
The inspection was the first in Suffolk since the nationwide Transforming Rehabilitation programme in 2014. Under the programme, supervision of high-risk offenders remained in the public sector with the National Probation Service (NPS), while those deemed lower risk were outsourced to private Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC).
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It has been criticised for failing to support offenders and leaving the public at risk.
The Norfolk and Suffolk CRC, which is owned by Sodexo Justice Services, in partnership with Nacro, was said to have been 'wrong-footed' in the transition.
Dame Glenys said its overall model was 'sound' but raised concerns some service users' main contact was by telephone. She raised further concerns with the way face-to-face supervising was often carried out in open booths, which 'does not provide sufficient privacy'.
The NPS's work was also said to be 'poor overall'.
Dame Glenys said: 'Suffolk is not being served well enough by probation services. Staff are working bard but still, the quality of work is poor overall. I am particularly concerned neither organisation is protecting the public enough in most cases and that domestic abuse victims and children are particularly at risk.'