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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

April 26, 2008: Probation Service "At Breaking Point", Says New Research

The National Probation Service faces a crisis of shrinking budgets and a shortage of qualified frontline staff at a time when demands on its services have never been higher, according to new research from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.

Based on interviews with probation staff and an in depth analysis of financial and workforce statistics, the research offers a striking picture of a Service struggling to cope and facing the threat of budget cuts and privatisation. The research was commissioned by probation union Napo.

Since 2001 the Probation budget has grown by 21% in real terms, fuelling claims by government ministers that proposed budget reductions will not affect frontline delivery.

The Comprehensive Spending Review, published in October 2007, proposed a 3% reduction in expenditure on probation  for three successive years.

While acknowledging that probation budgets have risen, the new research highlights problems of rising and more complex caseloads, a shortage of qualified probation staff and an endemic problem of staff sickness and unpaid hours. The research also warns of the risk of court sentences not being carried out because of resource shortfalls. Among the report's main findings are:

  • Since 2001, the Probation budget has grown by 21% in real terms. However, in recent years it has declined, by 9 percent in 2005-06 and 2 percent in 2006-07. The government plans further year on year budget reductions of 3% per year for the next three years.
  • The recently announced £40 million for implementing community orders in place of short prison sentences is unlikely to compensate for the impact of long term and continuing budget reductions.
  • Probation caseloads increased by 23% between 2002 and 2006, and by 47% since 1997.
  • There is a vacuum in knowledge about how much needs to be spent to meet increases in workload caused by rising numbers of community orders.
  • New work taken on by the Probation Service has proved to be far more complex, time-consuming and staff-intensive than work traditionally performed by the Service.
  • Frontline probation staff grew by 21% between 2002 and 2006. However, growth was concentrated among senior and management grades, as well as the less qualified Probation Service Officers. The numbers of fully qualified and trainee Probation Officers fell by 9%.
  • The ratio of offenders to qualified Probation Officers increased by 28% between 2002 and 2006, from 31 offenders per Officer to 39.
  •  The research estimates that qualified Probation Officers worked nearly 30,000 unpaid hours in 2006, equivalent to one extra hour worked per day per officer.
  • Budgetary concerns and fears have been expressed by many of the probation areas that are responsible for local probation services.

`Probation Resources, Staffing and Workloads 2001-2008'  was researched and written by Dr Mark Oldfield, a leading independent researcher, and Dr Roger Grimshaw, research director at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College London. Dr Grimshaw commented:

'The statistics show there is no room for complacency about the Probation Service's capacity to meet the expectations of the courts and of the public. The budget has already fallen over the last two years and probation areas are having to consider reducing key staff in the face of rising needs.'

Napo Assistant General Secretary Harry Fletcher  added:

'The research confirms that the Probation Service is beyond capacity. The Government can't expect staff to supervise soaring caseloads without accepting the consequences of more re-offending and more victims. The service is at breaking point.'