Napo’s involvement with the Justice Select Committee’s investigation into the function of TR continued last month when we, along with Unison, were asked to provide oral evidence on the experience of our members of how the ‘rehabilitation revolution’ was panning out in practice. Originally we hoped to be able to bring the Committee face to face with practitioners but, unfortunately, the JSC was not able to offer sufficient protections for members who might be deemed to breach their contracts by speaking out. Instead, both Ian Lawrence, Napo’s GS, and Ben Priestly, from Unison, gathered evidence from members and relayed this to the JSC hearing.
The Committee was clearly impressed by the quality of the evidence provided, particularly about the failure of ‘through the gate’ provision – on which the whole premise of TR was based. Ian Lawrence told Committee members that private probation providers are barely meeting one third of their performance targets and that despite hundreds of millions of pounds in Government funding, the Payment by Results mechanism (PbR) has resulted in only two out of 21 CRCs qualifying for the scheme. We were also able to provide anonomised written evidence from members.
As a result of the evidence, Napo was asked by Committee Chair, Bob Neill, to provide follow up information, including what we would see as key components of a ‘workforce strategy’ for probation – should such a development occur. Our detailed submission covered such areas as a global pay strategy, ensuring common terms and conditions for all probation staff, the pressing need for additional investment in staff across both the CRCs and the NPS, measures to ensure localised accountability and, crucially, the need to restore trust and confidence in the service among sentencers.
The submission will be made available to members as soon as it is published by the JSC.