Chair of the Justice Select Committee, Bob Neill, has written formally to the Secretary of State criticising the department’s response to the findings of the JSC inquiry into the operation of TR.
In his hard-hitting letter, the JSC Chair expresses disappointment that the current consultation – Strengthening Probation – does not go far enough.
Drawing the Minister’s attention to the fact that the JSC expressed doubts that the TR “model can ever deliver an effective or viable probation service”, Bob Neill says: “We recommended that the Ministry of Justice initiate a review into the long-term future and sustainability of delivering probation services under the models introduced by the TR reforms, including how performance under the TR system might compare to an alternative system for delivering probation. In our view the scope of the current consultation therefore represents a missed opportunity.”
He continues: “In particular, we are unconvinced that splitting offenders by risk was the right way to deliver the probation system. Therefore, we are also particularly interested in your response to our call on the Government to ask HMI Probation to conduct a review of how offenders should be distributed between the NPS and CRCs, to investigate the impact of changing offender risk and how the NPS and CRCs manage this matter.”
Finally the letter addresses the issue of the new CRC contracts from 2020, saying: “Our committee will also want to pay special attention to the new contractual arrangements, given the past failures to tackle under-performance. In 2017-18, HMPPS wrote off an abandoned claim of nearly £6 million for recoveries from CRCs; this raises serious concerns about commercial capability within the department. It is vitally important that previous failures in the contracting model are not repeated.”
The government is not due to provide its formal response to the recommendations of the JSC report until later this month.