Westminster Legal Policy Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
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Next steps for the probation service - responsibilities and partnerships, quality and standards, and the future role of CRCs and the third sector

Morning, Wednesday, 9th December 2020

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference is bringing together key stakeholders and policymakers to examine significant changes in the remit of HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS.

The discussion at a glance:

  • the NPS’s new responsibilities - implementation and resourcing
  • the enhanced role for the voluntary and third sector - future provision of probation services, and how it will work and be run
  • next steps for offender monitoring and supervision
  • meeting the individual needs of service users
  • the impact of the pandemic

A scan of relevant developments:

  • Government to take control of unpaid work to strengthen community sentences - the announced transfer of responsibility for probationary unpaid work schemes and behaviour programmes away from Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) to the National Probation Service and taking effect in June 2021
  • the third sector - their new role in probation, with:
    • charities able to compete for £100m to provide services in education, employment and accommodation, and support those with addictions.
    • Government highlighting last year that it did not believe it had done enough to involve charities in the Transforming Rehabilitation Programme
  • resources - the Chief Inspector recently calling for improvements to funding, staff training and filling vacancies
  • the Probation Workforce Strategy - recently announced by the Government, and designed to improve offender supervision and public protection:
    • enhancing training - new training programmes to help upskill and retain staff following concerns surrounding staffing shortfalls
    • easing workload - providing new opportunities to prevent overwork and enable increased case sharing
    • recruitment - expanding the NPS workforce and addressing recent difficulties in filling vacancies, with a target of 1,000 new probation officers by 2021
    • utilising technology - using new IT systems and AI to reduce administrative work and enable more time for working directly with offenders - particularly low-risk criminals with underlying problems such as addiction
    • diversifying the workforce - and recruiting ex-offenders in appropriate roles to ensure the NPS is more representative of service users
  • the National Probation Service Health and Social Care Strategy 2019-22, that aims to:
    • reform the healthcare afforded to offenders - across seven priority areas, including substance misuse and physical heath
    • develop pathways into care for those in the probation system
    • allow local areas to develop their own action plans to help reduce variation in quality of care between regions
  • Accommodation and support for adult offenders in the community and on release from prison in England - HM Inspectorate of Probation highlighting housing shortages and offenders being considered low-priority on housing registers
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19): The impact on probation services - the recent Justice Select Committee Report, with concerns that some checks on high risk offenders were not carried out during lockdown, with face-to-face supervision scaled back to lower the risk of infection and supervision transferred to the telephone or doorstop visits

The agenda:

  • Equipping the NPS for its new areas of responsibility - next steps for ensuring adequate funding, staffing levels and staff training
  • Improving the quality of probation services and reforming the system - standards, transparency, accountability and the continued role for CRCs in the provision of specialist services
  • Assessing the key goals for the probation service and how best to meet them - rehabilitation, reoffending rates, proportionality and public safety
  • The way forward for ensuring high standards of offender monitoring, observation and support throughout the probation process
  • Next steps for implementing reform of the probation service

The discussion in detail:

Implementing the transfer of responsibilities to HMPPS

  • impact - what is needed so that the changes are able to improve the quality, consistency and effectiveness of probation services in the UK, including regional variations in the quality of provision
  • skills and resources - what measures may be needed to ensure that the NPS and HMPPS have sufficient levels of funding and staffing to meet the new responsibilities, and that staff are provided with sufficient levels of training

Future structure and provision of services

  • standards, regulation, oversight and accountability - the future design of probation service delivery, and the way forward for implementation
  • CRCs:
    • their future role with government indicating that it still envisages their involvement in the delivery of certain specialist services, such as addiction support, employment and training services
    • how best to integrate these privately-provided elements within the broader probation framework going forward
  • the third sector:
    • its wider role in service delivery:
    • how it can structured so as to complement and enhance work which will be done by the NPS
  • meeting needs at a local level - as well as developing services to fit with the demands of prison governors, Probation Regional Directors and Police and Crime Commissioners
  • collaboration to improve outcomes - the working of the partnership model announced last year between the MOJ, HMPPS and the DWP aimed at better preparing offenders for future employment

Offender care and monitoring

  • the National Probation Service Health and Social Care Strategy - examining its plans for healthcare reform and local approaches to probation
  • tackling re-offending - looking at rehabilitation through education, social integration and employment, including current risk assessments and approaches such as the risk-need-responsivity model
  • meeting offenders’ individual needs following prison - implementing timely provision of accommodation and benefits payments, costs of mental health and other relevant treatments and support
  • offender monitoring -  design and implementation of the new responsibilities for the NPS in respect of low or medium risk offenders as well as those consider high-risk
  • consistency  - what more may be needed to ensure sufficient levels of scrutiny in the monitoring of offenders throughout all stages of the probation process
  • technology - its potential to improve co-ordination and inform decisions in the administration of probation services including the introduction of sobriety ankle tags

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This one seems no different. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons Library, and officials from the National Probation Service; HMCTS; HMPPS; Home Office; the Ministry of Justice; the Department of Health & Social Care; and the National Audit Office.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Justin Russell

HM Chief Inspector of Probation

Jim Barton

Director, CRC Contract Management, SRO - Probation Reform Programme and Electronic Monitoring Programme, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, Ministry of Justice

Keynote Speakers

Justin Russell

HM Chief Inspector of Probation

Jim Barton

Director, CRC Contract Management, SRO - Probation Reform Programme and Electronic Monitoring Programme, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, Ministry of Justice


Senior speaker confirmed from NACRO

Tania Bassett

National Official, Press, Parliament & Campaigns, Napo

Darren Burns

National Recruitment Ambassador, Timpson

Senior speaker confirmed from St Giles Trust

Mark Johnson

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, User Voice