On March 30th, Helen Berresford, Nacro’s Director of External Engagement, appeared on BBC Radio Sheffield and BBC Look North to discuss two inspection reports into the Kirklees and Sheffield probation services.
In Sheffield, the probation service scored one point out of a possible 27, resulting in being rated ‘inadequate’. The inspection report laid out 14 urgent recommendations to improve the service. Read the full Sheffield report.
The Kirklees service fared slightly better, with positive changes being found by inspectors, but the service was still rated ‘inadequate’ overall. Read the full Kirklees report.
Why is this concerning?
Probation is a key frontline service and a critical part of the justice system. Probation officers and probation services are responsible not only for supporting people on their rehabilitation journeys but their work is also a vital part of ensuring public protection and crime reduction.
Despite this, probation services are under huge pressure. Like many frontline services they are struggling with insufficient levels of staffing and high workloads.
Probation services are responsible for the overall supervision of a person after they leave custody, or are sentenced to a community sentence. That includes responsibility for sentence management, such as assessment and management of risk, as well as Accredited Programmes, Unpaid Work and Structured Interventions.
They are also responsible for referring into wider rehabilitation services run by charities like Nacro. These can offer a range of support and advice such as finding a person somewhere to live or maintain their accommodation, support with family relationships and personal wellbeing, or help to get into work or training. All of this should be built around a person’s needs including for example whether someone is facing substance misuse problems or mental health difficulties.
All these levels of support are key to helping people to reintegrate into the community, move forward with their lives away from crime, and reduce reoffending.
We see every day how important these services are. If probation isn’t working effectively it affects us all. It’s time that policy makers took probation more seriously and put it centre stage of efforts to build an effective justice system.
Listen to Nacro on BBC Radio Sheffield
Helen Berresford spoke to BBC Radio Sheffield’s Drivetime presenter Howard Pressman about what this report means for Sheffield.