Probation service case management judged ‘unacceptably poor’ by inspectors

Inspectors say East Anglia's probation service 'requires improvement' Picture: MATTHEW USHER

Inspectors say East Anglia's probation service 'requires improvement' Picture: MATTHEW USHER - Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant

The probation service in Suffolk and Norfolk is not supervising offenders effectively - with its case management deemed ‘unacceptably poor’ - according to inspectors.

A routine inspection of the Norfolk and Suffolk Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), by HM Inspectorate of Probation in May this year, found the organisation 'requires improvement'.

The CRC manages the 3,000 low and medium risk offenders across the two counties as they prepare to leave or have recently left prison. For the first time, inspectors have rated all four key case supervision standards as inadequate - their lowest rating.

The report shows in more than half of the cases inspected, insufficient action was being taken to identify and manage the risks an offender could pose to others.

Inspectors also found cases where they felt staff should have contacted police about the issue, but failed to do so.

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Chief Inspector Justin Russell said: "We last inspected in Suffolk in 2017 and, at that time, we assessed the quality of work as 'nowhere near good enough'.

"Since then, the CRC has put several improvements in place including new senior managers and an increase in frontline staffing. It was disappointing, therefore, to find the quality of case management remains unacceptably poor.

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"The greatest deficiencies lie in work to manage the risk of harm to others, in cases where the safeguarding of children or domestic abuse is a concern.

"Rapid improvement is essential to ensure that vulnerable people are protected."

However, inspectors said the CRC's supervision of those sentenced to unpaid work in the community was 'outstanding', being flexible with factors including disability, language barriers and working patterns.

Mr Russell said: "The CRC has demonstrated that it can deliver outstanding unpaid work services.

"It now needs to focus its efforts on a relentless drive to improve the quality of its case management to an acceptable level.

"We have made six recommendations that we hope will improve the quality of probation services in Norfolk and Suffolk."

A Norfolk and Suffolk CRC spokesman said: "We welcome the comments from the Chief Inspector of Probation and are pleased that our Community Payback scheme has been rated as outstanding, that services for offenders were assessed as good and the recognition of our wide ranging quality of service.

"We had already introduced robust new action plans to address the issues raised in the report prior to the inspection, such as the quality, consistency and depth of our case supervision, with these new plans ensuring protecting the public remains our priority."

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