Headlines: December 4th, 2013

A new organisation delivering professional expertise and promoting skills for those working to drive down reoffending in the community is to be set up.

The Probation Institute will be an independent ‘centre of excellence’ for the rehabilitation sector. Once established, it will support professional development – building on the Probation Service’s experience – for all those who are managing offenders in the community.

Government rehabilitation reforms, including a major outsourcing programme, will bring together the best of the public, private and voluntary sectors working together to reduce stubbornly high reoffending rates that see 600,000 crimes committed each year by those who have already broken the law.
As part of these changes a new National Probation Service is being created to protect the public from the most dangerous offenders. Across the country 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) are also being formed to supervise and rehabilitate around 225,000 low and medium risk offenders, who are often the most prolific offenders.

The Probation Institute will work with these organisations and potential providers to reduce reoffending and drive up standards.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Reoffending has been too high for too long. Our reforms will bring a new approach to dealing with chaotic offenders who commit crimes time and again.

“We want to see organisations and mentors with the expertise and specialist skills to manage these offenders and keep the public safe, and the Probation Institute will help us ensure this happens.

“It will allow us to get the best out of the public, private and voluntary sectors in our fight against reoffending.”

The independent Institute will be a joint venture of probation staff and employer representative bodies.

A spokesperson for the Probation Chiefs Association, on behalf of the joint venture, said: “The Probation Institute will aim to develop the probation profession and be a centre of excellence, supporting evidence based practice and the continuing professional development of staff, so that the best outcomes are secured both in terms of public safety and reducing reoffending.

“We believe that the development of the Institute is something that needs to be led by the profession itself and we welcome the support that the Government is giving to the establishment of this important new body.”

The Ministry of Justice is to provide up to £90,000 towards the set-up costs for the Institute and work is under way for it to be operational by March 2014. The Probation Chiefs Association and the Probation Association are also jointly contributing £60,000 to the set-up costs. Future funding will be from membership subscriptions.