The Suffolk Probation Service has been deemed to be 'requiring improvement' following an inspection, which found that some staff lacked knowledge and experience.

HM Inspectorate of Probation, which inspects youth justice and probation services, has released a report on Suffolk Probation Delivery Unit (PDU), which revealed that Senior Probation Officers (SPO) were experiencing high workload pressures.

Managers at the service spoke of difficulties supporting a new cohort of staff while undertaking tasks related to human resources. 

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These demands made it difficult for SPOs to provide adequate management oversight of cases, the report said.

Martin Jones, chief inspector of probation, said: “Despite the high number of staff who have been in post for less than two years, practitioners at Suffolk PDU fully understand and support the vision and strategy of the leadership team.

"Staff describe their leadership team as approachable, visible and supportive.

"However, while we did see a core group of staff able to appropriately manage risk, there were others who either did not have the capacity, due to workload or appropriate knowledge, or the experience required to formulate an effective risk management strategy.”

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However, on the positive side, the report found that probation leaders had a proactive relationship with Suffolk Police, the youth justice service and the Suffolk Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), which receives and processes safeguarding referrals of children and adults at risk of harm or abuse.

However, although information about people on probation was available through these agencies, it was not used routinely to shape subsequent practice.

The inspection report also highlighted positive examples of staff understanding the motivations of probationers in complying with their sentence, but too often this 'understanding' failed to result in adequate planning to stop offending.

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Similarly, plans were not put in place to address mental health concerns and trauma, which could lead to probationers committing further crimes.

Mr Jones added: “While the right foundations and culture are in place at Suffolk PDU, a clear strategy to implement these necessary changes will be central to supporting future improvements."

Suffolk Probation Delivery Unit has been approached for comment.