Probation Service (Revised National Standards)

Justice written statement – made on 5th April 2011.

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Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice) (Prisons and Probation)

I am publishing today new national standards for the management of offenders that provide a framework for the purposeful and effective management of offenders subject to community and suspended sentence orders and supervision on licence. The standards cover relevant services to victims and courts, the assessment, planning and implementation of community sentences and licences in order to reduce reoffending, giving priority to reducing the risk of reoffending likely to cause serious harm to the public

In a concise format, each of the new standards is supported by NOMS guidance on any minimum mandatory requirements, indications of what is expected from high-quality work by probation practitioners, guidance on effective practice and on the source of more detailed instructions and guidance. I expect practitioners to manage their work with offenders as the risks of each case demands, using their knowledge of the individual case and drawing on their professional training and experience. Local managers will have a significant role to play in assuring the continuing quality of the work within the scope of these standards. When fully implemented alongside quality assurance methods, we expect these changes to drive the active management of offenders to reduce reoffending thereby protecting the public, moving away from a defensive, tick-box approach to following standard processes.

The mandatory requirements governing breach action after failures to comply with community and suspended sentence orders and licences have not been altered. We continue to expect sentences of the court to be properly enforced.

All decisions to terminate orders early, for instance for good progress, continue to require the case to return to court to allow magistrates and judges to make the final decision. We are considering the responses to the Green Paper, “Breaking the Cycle: Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation and Sentencing of Offenders”, and Parliament will have the opportunity to examine further the potential for professional discretion for offender managers later in the year.

The new standards are consistent with this Government’s commitment to reducing bureaucracy and allowing practitioners to use their judgment and professional skills. The revisions will enable local innovation in practice, and devolve responsibility for achieving results to individual practitioners and probation trusts.

In consultation with NOMS, probation trusts may adopt the new standards from today, with the expectation that they will have completed their local implementation by March 2012.

The new standards are available online.