Norfolk and Suffolk private probation service provides 'poor supervised'

Prison officer seen through bars Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Sodexo Justice Services-owned company monitors low and medium-risk offenders in Norfolk and Suffolk

A privately-run probation service has been told by a watchdog it provided "poor supervision" of offenders and must improve.

Norfolk and Suffolk Community Rehabilitation Company (NSCRC) was also potentially putting domestic abuse victims and children at risk.

HM Inspectorate of Probation said case management was "unacceptably poor".

A NSCRC spokeswoman said it had already introduced "robust new plans to address the issues" before May's inspection.

The probation watchdog found the company, which is run by Sodexo Justice Services, "required improvement" overall and inspectors were "particularly concerned about the poor supervision of individuals".

All four key case supervision standards were judged to be "inadequate".

Safeguarding concerns

Chief inspector Justin Russell said Suffolk's service was last inspected in 2017 when it was "nowhere near good enough".

He said although more staff had been recruited "the quality of case management remains unacceptably poor".

"The greatest deficiencies lie in work to manage the risk of harm to others, in cases where the safeguarding of children or domestic abuse is a concern," he said.

In one instance, paperwork did not mention how an offender had a history of violence against police officers and a former partner in front of their child, as well as threatening others with weapons including an axe while drunk and had previously been assessed as "posing a high risk of causing serious harm".

The NSCRC manages more than 3,000 low and medium-risk offenders.

However, its unpaid work services were rated outstanding, while two more categories - out of 10 overall - were judged as good.

The NSCRC spokeswoman said it was "pleased our Community Payback scheme has been rated outstanding, that services for offenders were assessed as good and the recognition of our wide-ranging quality of service".

"We had already introduced robust new action plans to address the issues raised in the report prior to the inspection, such as the quality, consistency and depth of our case supervision, with these new plans ensuring protecting the public remains our priority," she said.

Last year, the government announced all 21 privately-run community rehabilitation companies would have their contracts axed early.

Responsibility for offenders will be handed to the state-run National Probation Service instead.

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