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20 Apr 2017

Howard League responds to Northamptonshire probation inspection

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation’s report on adult probation services in Northamptonshire, published today (Thursday 20 April).

The report states that the publicly-run National Probation Service (NPS), responsible for supervising people deemed to present a high risk of reoffending, was performing reasonably well.

However, inspectors criticised the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), which is owned by Sodexo in partnership with Nacro and tasked with managing medium- and low-risk cases. They found that the CRC was not doing enough to prevent reoffending and was not focused enough on protecting the public.

Too little work was being delivered to reduce the likelihood of domestic violence. Problems with the CRC’s work with police and children’s services left victims and their children more vulnerable than necessary.

Staffing shortages made it hard for people to get on to accredited programmes, leaving some unable to fulfil the requirements of their sentences and unable to get the help they needed.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “The break-up of the public probation service, with a large part of it handed to 21 private companies, was supposed to turn lives around, reduce reoffending and make us all safer.

“Today’s report is the latest in a series of inspections showing how this has failed, increasing the risk to the public and letting down people who are trying to change their lives.

“A general election is only seven weeks away, and one of the first challenges for a new government will be to sort out this mess.

“It is time to end the dangerous experiment of ‘community rehabilitation companies’ and return to the single, successful, probation service that we used to have.”

Among the problems identified in the report was Sodexo’s reliance on an IT interface – to be provided by Her Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service – that is not yet ready. Sodexo went ahead with implementing its new operational model anyway and made staff redundant.

Inspectors said that it was “difficult to understand why Sodexo gave so little attention to contingency planning, and went ahead with large-scale redundancies, given the clear dependencies and inherent risks”.

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.
  1. A copy of the Northamptonshire inspection report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Probation website.


Rob Preece
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