The effectiveness of TR is coming under further parliamentary scrutiny, this time the Parliamentary Welsh Affairs Committee who are inviting evidence from stakeholders and interested parties on the current state of justice provision across Wales, with particular reference to prison and probation services.
Napo submitted detailed comments to the Committee this week about the operation of Working Links and CRCs in Wales and how these services can be improved.
Napo’s submission concludes: “In Napo’s view the current system is utterly unsustainable. If it survives to the end of the existing contracts there is no sustainable way forward under the existing model. It cannot be tweaked. Working Links are amongst the worst of the CRC providers but we have no confidence or evidence that the market is strong enough to produce an alternative, better provider”.
It continues: “Re-tendering would still leave the NPS – a struggling bureaucratically straight-jacketed systematically dysfunctional organisation that was almost accidentally nationalised because no-one thought they sell off the management of high risk offenders. Re-tendering would entrench this artificial professional divide in core service delivery. Re-tendering would entrench the conflicting lines of accountability that undermine public trust and confidence if and when something goes wrong”.
The submission also sets out Napo’s four key tests for any alternative, which are:
Finally the submission states: “In Wales, there is an obvious opportunity to devolve the commissioning of probation services to the Welsh Assembly. This would at least potentially meet all of these tests. However, before doing so we would expect there to be careful consideration, including engagement with Napo and other staff unions, to build a consensus around this change – including united support for establishing professional standards and frameworks; ensuring sustainable long-term budgets; and working through the transitional people issues”.
The full submission has now been published by the committee and members can download a copy from the parliamentary website.