Headlines: September 4th, 2001

The Home Office has closed a loophole that left prisoners with a better avenue for redress against inequality in state provision than offenders on probation.From this month, Stephen Shaw, currently Prisons Ombudsman, takes on the role of Ombudsman for the National Probation Service, meaning that for the first time, offenders on probation will have access to an independent complaints procedure.

The move is seen as a significant step towards a more joined up criminal justice system, and is perhaps a natural follow-up to the creation of a modernised National Probation Service, which went live in April this year.

The Prisons Ombudsman’s office was established in 1994, following the Woolf report into troubles at Strangeways and elsewhere. Its duties are to provide offenders with an effective avenue of complaint, and as such are distinct from the Prisons Inspectorate, which inspects prison conditions generally.