Headlines: April 19th, 1999

Following extensive discussion on the consultation paper “Joining Forces to Protect the Public”, the probation service will be re-shaped to harmonise with the modernisation of the Criminal Justice system. The Service will be totally funded by central government and it will be headed by a Director directly accountable to the Home Secretary.

The new unified Service with 42 local operational areas, matching police force boundaries, will replace the 54 separate, individual probation services. Chief Probation Officers will manage each area as under current arrangements, but they will become civil servants, employed by the Home Office. Local Probation Boards, with a more strategic role, will replace the existing committees and ensure a continuing strong link to local communities.

The role of the Service will be expanded within the Criminal Justice system. The Crime and Disorder Act contains a number of measures requiring the input and expertise of probation staff. In addition, local partnerships to tackle crime problems in each area require much closer working between the probation services and other agencies such as the police, councils, social services and education and health authorities.