South West PCC's welcome probation changes

16 May 2019, 15:27

Probation Generic

Police and Crime Commissioner's from across the South west have welcomed the Government's announcement that the supervision of thousands of offenders will return to the National Probation Service.

The five Police and Crime Commissioner's serving Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire and Swindon have been lobbying the Ministry of Justice for a change to the model following concerns and a series of critical reports.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson said: "This is a very positive step forward in rehabilitating offenders both those who receive custodial sentence and those who receive community or suspended sentences.

"It's important that offender management is consistent and we recognise that individuals have differing needs and a one-size-fits-all approach isn't the answer.

"I look forward to continuing to work alongside fellow South West PCC's to improve rehabilitation in the region."

Reacting to today's announcement Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: "I'm really pleased that the Ministry of Justice has listened to the concerns of all of the South west PCC's.

"We've responded to the Government's consultation and have held honest discussions with Ministers regarding our worries over the effectiveness of the community rehabilitation companies.

"All PCC's across the South west are committed to delivering local solutions which fit the needs of our own areas. We want to work the Ministry of Justice to involve the third sector and local employers. We've already set up the South west regional reducing reoffending board so we can respond to this change and be in a position to start work straight away better supporting people released from jail after serving short sentences. We all want to better rehabilitate offenders, reduce offending and ultimately cut crime in our communities."

Gloucestershire's Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl said, "If offenders are not supported effectively on their release from prison, then reoffending rates will remain high. More crime means more victims of crime which is unacceptable. Clearly, the reforms made in 2013 have failed and the system is broken.

"Like many PCCs who opposed the changes I firmly believe probation is a role for the state. We all now have a responsibility to ensure that any future plans do better and my office and I are keen to play an integral part of that."

The Ministry of Justice began partially privatising the probation service in 2013, which involved 21 "community rehabilitation companies". 

In February, the community rehabilitation company serving the South west Working Links went into administration. Dame Glenys Stacey, the Chief Inspector of Probation, in March described the partial privatisation model as "irredeemably flawed."