Key Links



Death Penalty


Justice System





Practitioner Links

Domestic Violence

Mental Disorder

Restorative Justice

Sex Offenders

Substance Misuse



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

January 18, 2010: NAPO Call To Abolish NOMS

In a briefing paper for parliamentarians published today, probation union Napo is calling on the next government to abolish the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and to create separate operational arms for the Prisons and Probation Services.

This would mean there would be a head of the Probation Service with a voice in government, which is currently absent, and a small core team of senior Probation staff with responsibility for issues such as training, employment relations, IT, Offender Assessment, Programmes and Partnership Working. The abolition of NOMS would save several hundred million by reducing bureaucracy, avoiding duplication and stopping unnecessary demands for information and data to the centre.

The Prisons and Probation Services were merged by the current government in April 2008 - a move not supported by Napo. Napo believes the existence of NOMS is seriously undermining the ability of the Probation Service to achieve its fundamental aims. Senior managers of NOMS now create policy and strategy in relation to the Probation Service. Their background and bias is with the Prison Service and they have little or no experience of working with offenders in the community. Napo believes, therefore, they are not well placed to know how to introduce efficiencies and prioritise spending in the community without compromising public protection.

Napo believes the creation of the merged agency was a fundamental mistake. They understand that staff in the Prison Service perform a difficult and demanding role like their colleagues in the Probation Service, but these roles, whilst complementary in certain ways, are very different.

The union argues that the two services are wedded together in a coerced union, created on the erroneous basis that the two organisations perform the same task. The relationship between them is currently distorted to fit a mould preconceived by the Prison Service, who lack knowledge and appreciation of the work of Probation. As a result the model is dysfunctional and it is fortuitous if Probation is able to deliver efficiently.

NOMS works on the assumption that policies are described as "through the gate", assuming that those supervised by the Probation Service have previously experienced custody. In reality, two-thirds of the 150,000 individuals currently supervised on court orders have never been to prison. Napo is highly critical of the leadership team in NOMS, all of whom have a background in the Prison Service and are not in Napo’s view effective champions of the Probation Service.

Staff from the two agencies are subject to different terms and conditions. Those from the Prison Service are civil servants protected by surplus list policies. Those from Probation in NOMS headquarter are secondees and have limited rights. If an individual post of a civil servant is abolished the post holder is placed on the surplus list until another post becomes available. In contrast those from Probation have their secondment terminated.

Napo's Assistant General Secretary, Harry Fletcher, commented:

"The merger of Prisons and Probation in 2008 was a dreadful mistake. There is no significant Probation presence in the new agency’s hierarchy. It is dominated by Prison staff and culture. All existing templates of the Prison Service have not been altered to take account of the nuance and different styles offered by Probation. Even Probation Circulars have been turned into ‘Instructions’, mimicking established Prisons’ practice, without any consultation".

"The Prison Service management ethos of centralised control and command is not appropriate to the Probation Service, which has been managed historically on the basis of consultation and wherever possible consent. This approach has helped Probation to sustain excellent industrial relations which are currently being undermined. The creation of two separate operational arms for Prison and Probation is needed urgently. The need for a large regional bureaucracy will then disappear. If this does not happen the Probation Service’s efficiency will be hampered, standards of supervision will fall and taxpayers’ money will continue to be wasted".