Westminster Legal Policy Forum

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Next steps for the probation system in England and Wales - legislative and policy changes | service organisation | staffing and workforce issues | pressures on prisons, the service and staff | rehabilitation and reducing reoffending | partnerships

February 2024

Price: £150 PLUS VAT

This conference examined next steps for the probation system in England and Wales.

Following reunification in 2021, delegates assessed current progress and priorities for future improvements in the probation system.

It took place following the commitment to the Victims and Prisoners Bill in the King’s Speech, for reform to the parole system regarding the release of dangerous offenders. Measures also announced include the presumption that sentences under 12 months will be served in the community and an extension to the early release scheme for lower-risk prisoners, in an aim to alleviate overcrowding in prison.

Delegates assessed issues for implementation of these measures, looking at implications for the probation service and its partners, and what will be needed to ensure that the system has capacity to service new demands.

We expected discussion on frameworks for providing rehabilitation for offenders and reducing reoffending in light of the new measures, including community engagement, local partnerships, commissioned rehabilitation services, offender management, and offender resettlement.

The agenda also looked at priorities for managing the impact on probation staff, including workload, as well as on past and potential victims.

Further discussion examined priorities for supporting both the current workforce and new staff entering the service, looking at training and recruitment practices, professional development, workforce culture, workloads and resources and implications for the HMPPS’ Probation Workforce Strategy (2023-2025). Delegates also considered longer-term priorities for government and policy to effectively support probation services and their workforce.

We are pleased to have been able to include keynote sessions with: Kim Thornden-Edwards, Chief Probation Officer, HM Prison and Probation Service, Ministry of Justice; Phil Bowen, Director, Centre for Justice Innovation; Jenny George, Director, Justice Value-For-Money Studies, National Audit Office; and Ian Lawrence, General Secretary, Trade Union and Professional Association for Probation and Family Court Staff, Napo.

Overall, areas for discussion included:

  • Offender management: considering reform - exploring concerns - risk management errors - staff workload - improving information sharing - next steps for public protection moving forward
  • Supporting rehabilitation: exploring collaborative approaches to reducing reoffending - community reintegration - risk management
  • Workforce: staffing and recruitment - impact of changes to sentencing and to the Victims and Prisoners Bill - priorities for supporting the probation workforce
  • Third sector role: priorities for increasing partnerships with the voluntary sector and improving joint-working within the probation system
  • Prison overcrowding: assessing the impact of the increasing prison population on the probation system - exploring early releases, changes to IPP sentences and community sentences
  • Reunification: assessing current progress and next steps for improvement - policy priorities for the probation service
  • Increased localisation: considering the proposed seven area model - exploring devolved offender management - local commissioning and solutions

The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues alongside key policy officials who attended from DCMS; DHSC; DWP; GLD; HMPPS; Home Office; MOJ; PBNI; PPO; and the Welsh Government.

This on-demand pack includes

  • A full video recording of the conference as it took place, with all presentations, Q&A sessions, and remarks from chairs
  • An automated transcript of the conference
  • Copies of the slides used to accompany speaker presentations (subject to permission
  • Access to on-the-day materialfs, including speaker biographies, attendee lists and the agenda