West Yorkshire probation service 'requires improvement'

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West Yorkshire CRC said it aimed to provide the "best possible" service to offenders

A probation service whose management of risk of harm was judged to be "consistently poor" has been given the lowest rating by inspectors for the second year in a row.

The West Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) was found to be understaffed and under-resourced.

Inspectors rated the service, which supervises low and medium-risk offenders, as "requiring improvement".

The CRC said it was working to improve the service it offered offenders.

An inspection by HM Inspectorate of Probation in 2018 found challenging staffing levels and many employees saying they were "overwhelmed".

Lacking skills and experience

Justin Russell, chief inspector of probation, said a new inspection in autumn 2019 found the company had restructured but had reduced the number of qualified probation officers.

"This has resulted in staff at a lower grade taking on larger workloads - even though some of them lack the necessary skills and experience to undertake complex work," he said.

Inspectors analysed a number of cases to examine how staff assessed, planned, delivered and reviewed activity with individuals on probation.

A large number of the cases involved domestic abuse and safeguarding issues.

"We found the management of risk of harm was consistently poor," Mr Russell said.

"Major improvements are needed to ensure staff use all the available information to assess risk factors."

The report accepted managers were doing their best to make improvements despite financial constraints.

Martin Davies, chief executive of the West Yorkshire CRC, said it delivered "targeted training and audits" to provide the best possible service to offenders.

"We also take swift action to hold offenders to account for their behaviour," he said.

"Protecting the public is our priority."

He said a new senior position had been created to deliver the changes required by the inspectorate.

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