Stoke & Staffordshire

Probation trust rejects payment-by-results criticism

A probation trust has rejected suggestions that a payment-by-results pilot will "cherry-pick" the easiest offenders to work with.

Staffordshire and West Midlands (SWM) Probation will take part in a four-year trial, alongside the Wales trust, aimed at reducing reoffending.

The pilot will see the trusts working with private and voluntary groups.

The Ministry of Justice said external organisations would be rewarded only if they met targets to cut reoffending.

Targets for the trial, which is due to start next year, have yet to be set.

The Howard League for Penal Reform criticised the general payment-by-results approach saying offenders with the most complex needs would "fall through the net as resources are channelled towards those who express a desire to change".

'Cut reoffending'

SWM trust accepted a commissioning model could result in "perverse incentives", but said it would be putting plans in place to counter that.

Chief Executive Mike Maiden described it as a "great opportunity... to design a new and better way of delivering our services".

The trust added: "Our probation officers are passionate about helping people make their lives better and that won't change.

"Far from cherry-picking the easiest groups, SWM Probation intends to target an area of our business where it's been hardest to cut reoffending."

The Minstry of Justice said the approach was due to be rolled out across all probation trusts from 2015.

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