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25 Sep 2018

Howard League responds to report on domestic abuse and Community Rehabilitation Companies

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation’s report on the work of Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) in relation to domestic abuse, published today (Tuesday 25 September).

Inspectors found that staff working for the privately-run probation companies did not have the skills, experience or time to supervise people properly.

Staff tended to underestimate risks and, in seven out of 10 cases, work to protect victims and children was not good enough.

The inspectorate was so concerned about seven cases that they asked the relevant CRCs to take immediate action to ensure the safety of victims and children.

The report comes as the government consults on the future of probation. The Howard League has responded to the consultation, advising ministers to avoid doubling down on the failures of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme and instead create a more intelligent balance of local and central powers in probation.

The Howard League’s proposed model, called ‘Community Justice’, involves a national strategic focus combined with local service delivery.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “The part-privatisation of probation has been a multi-million-pound disaster since day one, and this scathing report spells out the desperate need for change.

“Poorly-run private companies, bailed out by the taxpayer, are failing to turn lives around, letting down women and children, and undermining public safety. Domestic abuse cases require a specialist focus that used to be the preserve of probation but which has seemingly fallen by the wayside in the rush to cut costs and turn a profit.

“The government’s consultation on the future of probation is a moment of opportunity – a chance to put things right. It is time to think critically and draw on the evidence about how to turn probation back into the exemplary public service it used to be.

“Saving probation will require brave reforms to reverse the damage caused by the Transforming Rehabilitation programme. The Howard League has outlined how this could be done, and we look forward to working positively with ministers to put those proposals into practice.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  2. The Howard League’s response to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on the future of probation can be downloaded from the charity’s website.
  3. The report, Domestic abuse: the work undertaken by Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs), can be read on the HM Inspectorate of Probation website from Tuesday 25 September 2018.


Rob Preece
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