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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-probation-service-sentencer-update/national-probation-service-sentencer-update-south-east-and-eastern-division
1. National Probation Service – working closely with Sentencers
Probation services have always valued close and effective working relationships with sentencers, and this has continued following the creation of the National Probation Service (NPS) last year.
The NPS and NOMS in Wales now work alongside the newly formed Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) to provide a full range of probation services. Throughout the changes that have taken place during the past year we have made every effort to ensure that the services you have required have remained of a high standard, and maintaining our positive relationships with sentencers is an important element of these efforts.
We also appreciate the importance of regular communication between sentencers, courts and probation services. That is why we have started to create news and updates on GOV.UK which we hope you will find both informative and useful.
The introduction of the Offender Rehabilitation Act in February has brought about considerable reform, including the introduction of supervision for the vast majority of offenders sentenced to under 12 months in prison. The numbers of offenders affected by the changes introduced by the ORA will increase during the coming months, including the use of the new Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (RAR).
The NPS is arranged into seven divisions, each led by experienced senior managers. We hope that you are already familiar with the senior NPS managers in your area; however an article from each divisional NPS lead is contained in this section. We’ve also included a selection of news articles from each division to give a flavour of some of the activity happening across the NPS.
We hope the information provided will prove interesting and useful, but we would appreciate your input to tell us what kind of information you’d like to receive from the NPS in future. A short survey has been set up to gather your views and we’ll use these to shape future communications with you.
Colin Allars, Director, Probation
Sarah Payne, Director, National Offender Management Service in Wales
2. Working with the new Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (RAR)
The recently introduced Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (RAR) offers the opportunity for a greater range of work to address offending behaviour.
Sentencers will be aware that this new requirement is available for both Community and Suspended Sentence Orders and replaces much of what would have been previously undertaken using supervision and activity requirements. It is for the court to first decide whether a Community Order or Suspended Sentence Order with a RAR is an appropriate sentencing disposal and then to set the length of the sentence and the maximum number of activity days.
The RAR does not allow for a minimum number of days, only a maximum. The allocated Responsible Officer, (previously known as Offender Manager or Probation Officer), will then decide the content of the activity days, how they will be delivered, how frequently the offender attends.
In some instances, the content of the RAR activity may be decided pre sentence where there are bespoke interventions in place. Therefore while the court may be aware of the proposed content, it cannot set what specific rehabilitation activities should be delivered under the RAR.
Roz Hamilton, NOMS Deputy Director and Courts Lead for the National Probation Service, said:
“The National Probation Service continues to work closely with the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) in each division as they begin their rehabilitation services in line with the requirements of the RAR.
“This close working relationship will ensure that the NPS and sentencers are kept informed of what interventions and activities are available and also the impact they are having.
“The NPS will continue to provide the pre-sentence reports in all cases where sentencers feel that a Community Order may be suitable, and this will identify the areas of concern which may be usefully addressed with a RAR.
“The RAR will offer a flexible framework within which the provider will be able to identify the areas of concern in a person’s life and create bespoke interventions to address these.
“At this early stage of implementation we are working with courts and CRCs to arrive at the most appropriate approach to the new requirement that will offer the best outcome for offenders and communities.
“We look forward to working with sentencers to arrive at a shared understanding of these new provisions.”
3. Update from the Deputy Director - South East and Eastern Division
I formally took up my new post as the Deputy Director for the National Probation Service South East and Eastern Directorate on the 1 April 2014.
The South East and Eastern Directorate includes the following counties: Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk and has four Community Rehabilitation Company counterparts that span the region – BeNCH (Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire), Norfolk/ Suffolk, Essex and Kent, Surrey, Sussex with who myself and staff have been engaging with to introduce key elements of supervision of prisoners serving less than 12 months custody and the provision of new offender services.
To provide you with some context; since the launch of the new National Probation Service on 1st June 2014 – which was part of the Government’s agenda to Transform Rehabilitation, the delivery of Probation Services has been divided in to six geographical areas – North East, North West, Midlands, London, South East and Eastern and South West South Central.
Each Division is lead by a Deputy Director who has overall operational responsibility for their area and also a series of portfolio leads – specific topics associated with different elements of end to end offender management.
These range from Domestic Violence and Safeguarding Children, through to Mental Health and even Courts. I personally hold the portfolios for Prisons and Resettlement Functions and Foreign National Offenders.
As part of the work around my portfolios I have been leading on a project called the Probation In Prisons Project which is linked to the National Offender Management Service overall review of the provision of custodial offender management in prisons across the country.
The project has so far seen a controlled phasing out of Probation Services Officers, with staff being redeployed back in to community based offices, and a national recruitment campaign to install greater numbers of qualified Probation Officers across the Womens’, Open and finally the Male and Closed Estates. The project is set to run until June/ July 2015 when the final results of the Custodial Offender Management Review will be published.
As part of the Foreign National portfolio, Victoria Jeffries, the Assistant Director for Surrey and West Sussex has been leading on a project to harmonise the way the South East and Eastern and London Directorates work with Foreign National Offenders sentenced to community based sentences. Work is under way to establish a joint South East and Eastern and London Foreign National Unit with responsibility for the management of all foreign national offenders within the division who are in-scope for deportation. The Unit will be managed by a Senior Probation Officer and based at HMP Maidstone. Recruitment is currently underway to the SPO role and this is an exciting opportunity to and shape the future management of foreign national offenders in the National Probation Service.
I hope this has given you a brief overview of my directorate and some of the work we are currently undertaking. I look forward to updating you all on the key developments in due course.
Deputy Director, South East and Eastern Division
4. Harmonisation of breach proceedings
The creation of the National Probation Service has required the harmonisation of a number of processes and procedures. One example of this has been breach proceedings.
A large data gathering exercise, followed by an analysis of findings led to a new set of operational processes for prosecuting breach cases in any South East and Eastern Court.
A three-month pilot, involving a small group of Crown Courts, will allow a carefully selected group of Probation Prosecutors to prosecute all non-contested breach hearings. This will include first hearings, adjournments and breach hearings (upon execution of a warrant) and training for this group is already underway.
After a period of reflection and evaluation – where parameters can be adjusted – full rights of audience will extended to all South East and Eastern Probation Prosecutors for another three month trial period. This will enable all prosecutors to conduct their own non-contested hearings.
A formal review will then evaluate the success of both phases and agree on next steps for this pilot.
The directorate is very excited about this pilot and feels it will ultimately result in:
- more effective handling of breaches
- a greater percentage of cases resolved at first hearing
- cost savings
We look forward to updating sentencers as the pilot develops.
5. Give us your feedback
NOMS has always valued a good working relationship with Sentencers and we appreciate any feedback received about any of our communications.
Please could you take a few moments to answer the following questions which will help us to evaluate this publication and shape future versions.