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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

January 22, 2010: Probation's Future Debated

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.

The future of the Probation Service has been debated in the House of Lords. During the adjournment debate, which had been secured by Lord Ramsbotham on 21 January, an impressive list of speakers contributed, raising a broad range of concerns including the effect of the establishment and operation of the National Offender Management Service on Probation, the lack of a Probation voice in policy making in NOMS and the need for more resources for the Service.

The full debate can be found in Hansard, but extracts from Lord Ramsbotham's speech are below:

In opening the debate, he argued that:

"The only alternative to custody is community sentencing, in which the public will have confidence only if offender supervision is seen to be credible. Of course probation staff have other tasks, but to have a credible probation service the Government's basic responsibility is to ensure that there are enough trained probation officers with enough available time to supervise the rehabilitation of the number of offenders for whom they are responsible-nothing more, nothing less. If there are not, neither probation nor the criminal justice system will be effective."

He concluded:

"Prison staff do not understand the minutiae of probation work, nor can they be expected to do so, any more than soldiers can be expected to be sailors. The two services are different but complementary within the criminal justice system. Therefore, to exclude the voice of probation from the formulation and direction of probation policy and to put it in the hands of people who know only about prisons is seriously unwise."

"What can be done? I know that we are in the run-up to an election and that this is not the best time to make proposals, but in the hope that the next Government, from whatever party, will realise the danger and do something about it, I shall make the following suggestions for action:"

  • "First, repeat Jack Straw's statement of 16 May 2000, substituting the word "restored" for "new".

  • Secondly, restore an independent National Probation Service by immediately appointing a director-general, with membership of all relevant policy committees, responsible and accountable for the performance of the service.

  •  Thirdly, recast NOMS not as a service but as the acronym of the national offender management system within the criminal justice system.

  • Fourthly, ensure that probation really is accountable to local communities, again as stated by Jack Straw, linking regional management to local rather than central control by rationalising probation performance criteria within local area agreements and crime reduction partnerships. All-important local confidence in community-based alternatives to custody is best gained by local rather than national action, because outcomes are locally visible.

  • Fifthly, announce that, in principle, and as a basis for resource planning, probation officers and probation service officers are to spend a minimum of 50 per cent of their time in face-to-face contact with offenders.

  • Sixthly, decentralise administration and rein back micromanagement, examine and cut out all superfluous branches in NOMS and rationalise and reduce audit reports and returns."