BEST PRACTICE ON DIVERSITY

Contents

Introduction
Towards Race Equality
Options for using the examples of good practice in your area 3

Section 1
Understanding Cultures
Working with minority ethnic communities 7

Section 2
Evidence Based Recruitment
Using assessment centres to improve the validity and reliability of recruitment 19

Section 3
Spreading the Net
How on-line information supports good practices and promotes race equality 31

Section 4
Building the Jigsaw
Towards race equality through monitoring and improving service delivery 43

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BEST PRACTICE ON DIVERSITY

Towards Race Equality
Options for using the examples of good practice in your area

The Probation Service is committed to the development of ‘What Works’ in all aspects of its work. The pursuit of excellence and best practice and the sharing of knowledge are particularly critical in the area of race equality. The Thematic Inspection ‘Towards Race Equality’ highlighted the variety of shortcomings in our employment and service delivery practices. The Report however identified a number, albeit few, of examples of good practice. The Diversity Strategy Board is committed to an action plan which requires the Service to identify, write up and disseminate periodically examples of good practice in race equality. These are to include employment and service delivery examples. This report is the first in a series of publications of such case studies. Whilst our starting point is race equality examples, the long-term commitment is to the wider diversity agenda. I congratulate all those whose examples are included here. I encourage a wide use of these examples and look forward to more creativity as we aim for achievement of excellence in our diversity objective. I commend this report to you all.

Eithne Wallis

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BEST PRACTICE ON DIVERSITY

Towards Race Equality
Options for using the examples of good practice in your area

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he enclosed case studies have been written with the help of five probation areas to provide examples of the work that is being done Towards Race Equality. Each example also includes a number of questions based on the European Excellence Model (EEM) framework to enable you to ‘benchmark’ the progress you have made in your own area.

The four examples can be used in a number of ways. They can be used (i) (ii) individually when you are exploring specific issues collectively as a resource and

(iii) as a basis for developing your own local examples of good practice. The following options are not mutually exclusive and if you can think of wider uses please let us know.

Individual examples
1 Evidence based recruitment Human Resources Managers responsible for recruitment and selection could use this example with appropriate colleagues to support a review and the development of the area’s own policies and processes for recruitment and selection. Areas could also use the case to help explore the possibility of developing an assessment centre approach to selection on a regional basis if they have not got the resources to do it within an individual area. Understanding cultures This example could be used with partner organisations to encourage the exploration of local issues and potential strategies for working with minority ethnic communities, or within the area to encourage an assessment of local communities and possible strategies for working with them. (This could be related to the area’s commitment to action under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 and/or in response to the National priorities and be included in the Area Business Plan) Spreading the net This example could be used to trigger discussion about the development of your own area (or regional) database and valuable sources of data which can be accessed. Building the jigsaw This example could be used to explore your area’s mechanisms for monitoring and developing services to minority ethnic offenders and their families and developing effective relationships with voluntary and other agencies.

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All examples 
Put the examples on the intranet in your area for all staff to access whenever they feel it may be useful reference material. You could add nationally available information and local examples of good practice and develop your own database. (You may wish to highlight the availability of the material by newsletter or notice and use the attached introduction or write your own.) Copy the examples and hold them with other research/learning material in your area’s resource centre/Staff Development Unit/Library to be freely available for staff use. Use the examples as case studies during staff, new manager and board member induction to enable them to (i) (ii) explore the issues and discuss good practice in Race Equality identify their role in promoting good practice in Race Equality and 

your area as part of preparation for EEM assessment. The questions can be used as they are or adapted to more specifically reflect your own initiatives. Use the examples to support developing joint approaches with partner agencies to inform/promote understanding and the development of joint strategies. This could include agencies within the Criminal Justice System, voluntary organisations and/or those representing minority ethnic communities with whom you work or wish to develop a working relationship. Use the examples in publicity or at conferences to raise awareness of the work being done in the service. (Please speak with the contact from the relevant areas involved in producing the examples before using the examples in a public forum).   

MOST IMPORTANT – make colleagues aware that the examples exist, where they can be found and how they might be used to support and develop good practice.

(iii) develop their understanding of the EEM model and how it can be used.  Use the examples as case studies in Race Awareness training (for example without the questions, asking the group to generate the questions they would ask in order to benchmark good practice). Use any or all of the examples in management teams to review current practice in Race Equality and develop strategies for developing/promoting diversity in your area and/or developing and monitoring services to minority ethnic offenders and their families. Use any or all of the examples amongst senior managers/those leading on EEM as an example of how the EEM framework can be used, or to evaluate current practice in  

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BEST PRACTICE ON DIVERSITY

Understanding Cultures
Working with minority ethnic communities

Section 1

BEST PRACTICE ON DIVERSITY

Understanding Cultures
Working with minority ethnic communities

Summary

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ne of the findings of Towards Race Equality – Thematic Inspection, published in 2000 states:

“It was apparent that all services had considerable work to do to improve their standing and gain the confidence of local minority ethnic communities, both in terms of work with offenders and as a potential employer. Partner organisations proved a valuable resource in providing culturally sensitive services for minority ethnic offenders. Services needed to ensure that there was appropriate consultation and communication with local minority ethnic communities in devising and implementing strategies.” Lancashire Probation Service – Asian Offender Project Progress Report in November 2000 states: “East Lancashire contains a significant proportion of its population from minority ethnic groups, and whilst striving towards a more representative staff group, Lancashire Probation Service does not currently have a staff group which reflects the communities it serves.” This example explores the work that has been ongoing for a number of years with minority ethnic communities in East Lancashire, in particular the community of Pakistani Muslim heritage in Pendle. Starting before the current emphasis on effective practice and partnerships, it illustrates an innovative and proactive approach to building better understanding and relationships between the probation service and

the communities it serves. It includes the current joint project with ITHAAD, a community organisation based in Pendle. (ITHAAD is an Urdu word for unity), the key elements of the approach, its outcomes and the lessons learnt by Lancashire Probation Service and ITHAAD. It also covers the subsequent actions taken by senior managers in the service to adopt this learning, promote race equality and implement the recommendations in the report of the thematic inspection. There are two key learning points from this work. In order to work effectively with communities, it is necessary to: 1 recognise and understand the multiple cultures that exist within them. For example, different cultures based on country of origin, ethnic group, faith, age, family and personal values. Similarly, there are different cultures within various Criminal Justice Agencies and different attitudes, experience and levels of understanding within staff groups in Probation Service and other organisations; and gather detailed specific information about the issues, identify options for action and be willing to address them in an innovative way.

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Other examples in this series will explore the issues of effective service delivery and monitoring in more detail. For further information please contact Mary Whyham at Lancashire Probation Service on 01772 201209

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BEST PRACTICE ON DIVERSITY

Understanding Cultures
Working with minority ethnic communities

Background

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here is a well established and substantial minority ethnic population in East Lancashire. It is primarily Muslim and of South Asian heritage. The Asian communities are concentrated in Blackburn and Pendle, a significant community in Hyndburn and smaller communities in Burnley and Rossendale. The largest community is of Pakistani heritage which, in some areas of the town of Nelson, represents the majority of the population. There is a large Indian community in Blackburn and small Bangladeshi communities in other towns. (Lancashire Probation Service – Asian Offenders Project – Progress Report 30/11/00) At this point, it is important to note that the Asian population in Pendle is almost uniquely Muslim and from one particular area of Pakistan. It is, therefore, closer to being one community than the several communities that may be found in other areas. The initial work referred to in this example was carried out within this specific community in the particular locality. This work started before the 1991 Criminal Justice Act, at a time when the population and the number of prosecutions of Asian offenders were increasing, but there appeared to be little experience of working within the particular requirements of a minority ethnic culture. (For example the implications of a male probation officer contacting female members of a strictly Muslim, Asian offender’s family.) Although most Probation Services were developing Equal

Opportunity policies at that time, they did not always place great emphasis on race issues, there was no co-ordinated forum in which to share experience and little or no monitoring to identify actual practice. However, in East Lancashire a number of developments were taking place. A strong, local, multi-agency partnership (the Pendle Partnership) was being established with the purpose, initially, of bidding for Single Regeneration Budget money. Led by the private sector the Partnership involved managers from a wide range of public, private and voluntary sector organisations. A number of community based organisations were also emerging including ITHAAD, which was established as the result of a meeting in the mosque to discuss the Muslim community’s concerns following two murders in the area. The organisation has elected officers, an executive committee and five area committees. Starting from a small office in town (donated free by one member) ITHAAD slowly developed a range of services for the community as well as a number of initiatives to increase understanding between the Asian and white populations. These included introducing the local community to Pakistani Muslim culture and cuisine and organising functions and sports tournaments designed to engage young people in positive activities. It has been able to develop and support its work by attracting funding from a variety of sources. This has included an urban aid grant to transform a derelict building into a Community Centre and Manpower Services Commission funding to support community work. Current services

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include community development, advice on welfare rights, Council Tax, housing and homelessness issues, nationality and immigration issues, diabetes awareness and drugs awareness. There is also a project to support Asian offenders and their families, which will be described later.

The experience 1992-1998
At this time within Lancashire Probation Service, senior managers had identified the need to raise awareness in relation to working with minority ethnic communities. Following a report by Meenakshi Sharma in 1992 covering consultation with staff on anti-discriminatory practices, a number of initiatives took place. This included awareness training throughout the organisation. A subsequent inspection by Lancaster University focused on race and gender issues in Lancashire Probation Service, including the way in which services were provided to female offenders and those from minority ethnic groups. The resultant action plan encouraged networking with local communities. Ian Galbraith had been appointed in 1991, as Senior Probation Officer to lead the team in Pendle. Previously as a Probation Officer in Burnley, and then as a Senior Probation Officer in Greater Manchester, he had developed a strong commitment to a community based approach. At the same time, the experienced staff group in Pendle were becoming acutely aware of their own lack of knowledge of the cultural and religious backgrounds of minority ethnic offenders, and the ensuing difficulty in working effectively with them. (In Pendle 50% of school leavers, and 30% of those sent to young offenders institutions, were of Pakistani Muslim heritage.) Prior to the implementation of the 1991 Criminal Justice Act, the introduction of Pre-Sentence Reports and the related National Standards;

research conducted by Lancaster University into the Pendle team’s work, identified that their practice did not take enough account of the cultural differences of the minority ethnic community. For example, the contents of the then Social Enquiry Reports varied significantly dependent on the officers writing them, rather than being based on the offence or the factors surrounding it. An analysis of sentencing outcomes showed the same discrepancies. Despite the apparent equality of a blanket approach of treating everyone the same, it was obvious that offenders from different ethnic backgrounds were experiencing differential treatment. For example, Asian offenders were more likely to get Community Service than Probation Orders. (These findings are mirrored in the findings in the later Thematic Inspection – see section 4.26 in the report.) The reasons for this ‘bias’ were not clear although there are a number of probable causes. For example – stereotyping the Asian work ethic, the belief that potential language difficulties would inhibit supervision but not Community Service supervision, or Probation Officers’ lack of confidence in working with offenders from different cultural and religious backgrounds The team, which did not include any minority ethnic staff, readily accepted the evidence of the statistics and quickly took steps to improve their practice through gatekeeping (another officer reading draft reports and providing constructive criticism).

The Asian Project
By 1993 a project was started to address the issue of quality in work with Asian offenders. Its aims were to examine to what extent Service Delivery (i) satisfied the needs and requirements of those who use it within the Asian community in Pendle and (ii) met the purposes for which it was designed. Three surveys were conducted. 1 In 1994 a survey of a number of Asian

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organisations and community leaders identified a clear need for the Probation Service to improve its profile and ‘introduce itself’ to a community which had little understanding of, and felt distant from, its work. 2 Also in 1994 a questionnaire was sent to South Asian offenders to examine their experience of the Probation Service (i) at court (ii) at the probation office during the pre sentencing stage and (iii) whilst under supervision. When written contact yielded virtually no response, a researcher from the South Asian community was employed to make personal contact (which was much more successful). They discovered that the initial low response was due to the belief among respondents that, if their experience was positive, they need not reply. The findings from this survey raised some concerns about (i) the percentage of Asian offenders not seen after court appearance (ii) respondents not always understanding the nuances of what was explained to them. (They were reluctant to continually press for more explanation after probation staff had willingly explained procedures, issues and the terms used in criminal justice system.) (iii) some experience of racism and oppressive behaviour from an individual member of staff (who has since left the area) and (iv) some experience of family difficulty with those on Community Service. This resulted in eight recommendations to improve service delivery. It also identified the difficulty at that time of establishing effective monitoring of minority ethnic offenders, largely because monitoring forms only offered black or white categories, and Asians could not accurately identify themselves under either of these headings. (The monitoring forms now being used have addressed this issue.)

It was by now apparent that increased drug use amongst young people in Asian communities was a problem. Whilst there was awareness of the problem among groups working with young people, there was widespread denial within Pendle’s Asian community. This created a barrier to developing appropriate services and in turn led to the project described below. 3 A public opinion survey was carried out as part of the Brierfield Arts and Drugs Project, conducted in 1995-96 in conjunction with Pendle Multi-Agency Group Network. The Arts and Drugs project had two aims (i) to increase knowledge and awareness of the issues and (ii) to generate useful information and inform the development of services able to respond specifically to the needs of members of the Pakistani Muslim community.

The project employed Asian researchers to conduct a survey of almost 100 Asian men and women. More than half were long term residents in the area, 90% with children of which a further 90% were over 17 years old. It covered their communications skills in both Urdu and English, their perceptions of the problems of young people and the effect of those problems on families. Within the wide range of problems mentioned, drugs and unemployment featured significantly. As well as demonstrating the level of awareness of the drugs problem it also highlighted that this issue was a source of stigma/shame in this community. Another feature of the project was a drama based piece of work, developed and performed by young people in order to communicate messages to the older generations. Despite reservations from almost every quarter that it would not work, young Asians from a local school took part in a project to write and perform a play about their culture and concerns. It was well supported when performed in a school and they also took it to

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the Barbican theatre in London. There was a great deal of publicity and support from local TV, radio and press. It not only raised awareness of the issues but also provided a vehicle for enabling discussion to take place on a very sensitive subject. There was also a visual arts project undertaken directly with women in the Asian community. The art work produced by the women was used as a backdrop for the drama presentation. A specialist drama worker and a visual arts worker were employed. A further linked project called Ghar Ghar involved women volunteers from the local Asian community. The women were trained in basic drug awareness and encouraged to communicate their understanding to friends, neighbours and family. The approach of ‘education by word of mouth’ proved very effective. In fact the whole project emphasised the value of using a wide variety of ways to make contact with the Asian communities, because of the significance of things like word of mouth, drama, poetry and art in their culture. For example, poetry is highly regarded in Pakistan and therefore potentially more influential than other means of communication. Similarly the opportunity to use Asian radio to reach a wider audience proved useful. The Asian Project was accomplished by working with different agencies as small scale funding and/or resources became available. The recommendations resulting from the research project were to: • develop formal links with Asian organisations in Pendle • work with them to develop awareness of the aims and ethos of the Probation Service • work closely with and train Asian

organisations who express an interest in providing placements of offenders to clarify roles, expectations and the aims of Community Service and Probation (ensuring all placements would be monitored) • engage with the Asian community as an integral part of the Probation Service teams’ anti-discriminatory practice • publicise the work of the Probation Service in the Asian community through the press, radio etc • develop anti-discriminatory training to raise awareness of ideas, beliefs, customs, cultures and religions which differ from the white, mainly secular, majority. One of the responses to these recommendations was to draw up a specification inviting the associations within the Asian community in Pendle to engage in a partnership. Two organisations tendered for the contract and ITHAAD was successful.

1998 – 2001 A partnership contract with ITHAAD
This project is designed to build better understanding of their respective cultures between Asian communities and the Criminal Justice system, through the employment of a link worker. She or he must be able to speak Punjabi and Urdu, write in Urdu, work with and deliver services to all parts of the Pakistani heritage population within Pendle and demonstrate familiarity with the issues and policies of the Probation Service. The contract provides for 60 hours a month direct work to • provide support to prisoners’ families • provide support and advice to probation staff including Community Service (CS) and Family Court Welfare (FCW) staff (by a female worker where appropriate)

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• advice (to include potentially discriminatory practice) on (predominantly Pakistani Muslim) cultural and faith issues • a limited amount of translating and interpreting • surgeries at probation offices • home visits (individual or jointly with probation staff) • participation in team meetings and other events • establish monitoring systems to track referrals, work completed and outcomes. The agreement was initially for seven months, and has subsequently been subject to annual renewal. The direct work has always been good but at first the project was hampered by mobility of the staff involved, poor record keeping and monitoring. (This is not uncommon in small voluntary organisations who have limited resources and frequently have a different ‘ethos’ to large public sector organisations). At the same time a survey of staff showed a “worryingly low” knowledge of the Asian community they served, with very low levels of referral except from Community Service staff. (LPS Evaluation of the Partnership Report 1999) The current link worker is an Asian woman. Appointed a year ago, she shares her time between five probation offices as well as being available to families in the ITHAAD office in Nelson. She also conducts family visits, jointly with probation staff if the case manager feels it is appropriate, or alone if it is more acceptable to the family. Continuing the practice of regular community surveys, she conducted one of her own, which showed that the most common crimes were drugs related, burglary and vehicle crimes. The most common causes for these crimes were identified as drugs, unemployment and alcohol. She found that, although more than half the people surveyed had been involved with the

probation service in some way, they still had limited understanding of its role. She continues to promote awareness of the Pakistani Muslim culture and emphasises that it is often the small things that make a difference. For example, explaining to a probation officer the specific implications of Muslim religious teaching, rituals and festivals, or explaining to families, clearly and in detail, the role of the probation service, court and prison procedures. She adds that it is particularly important to be able to do this in the family’s first language both verbally and in writing at a time when they may be very distressed.

Outcomes
The partnership still has some difficulty with monitoring the level of activity in the project, because advice given to probation staff is significantly under recorded. Ad hoc advice and information tend to be excluded from the figures although they are invaluable. Similarly, although it is known that currently 20-30 offenders are seen over a year, it is difficult to be precise about the number of families seen, and family visits made, as few visits are ‘one-off’.

Probation perspective
Although the percentage of commencements still show higher numbers of Community Service than Probation Orders, the availability of a link worker is valued by probation staff. The quality of advice and guidance she provides on Muslim cultural and religious issues enables probation staff to work more effectively and with more confidence. This means that a better service is delivered to offenders and their families, who get more information and are treated in a more understanding way. A member of staff from a minority ethnic group has now joined the team and there is a steady improvement in the use of the service provided by the community link worker and the agency.

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However, referrals are still low and only one probation officer uses the project as the primary contact with offenders. To address this the link worker is conducting a further survey of staff understanding and needs in order to encourage closer working and Lancashire Probation Service now sets and monitors specific targets to develop a steady growth in the use of this service. These include targets for surgeries, numbers of referrals, offender contacts, family contacts and advice contacts as well as prison visits, interpreting sessions and referrals to other agencies. ITHAAD’s perspective is that the project definitely benefits the community. A bilingual link worker available at the probation service’s offices, ITHAAD offices or to undertake home visits, means that parents of offenders can more readily get information and help. (“Although probation staff are friendly and understanding they do not speak other languages. She can explain in an understandable and digestible way what is happening to their son, the potential consequences in court proceedings, the availability of appropriate food in prison, arrangements for prayer, visiting and so on” – Secretary of ITHAAD). ITHAAD is involved in a range of projects, provides various services and prides itself in working with confidentiality. This has encouraged offenders’ families to use their services and office, when they have been reluctant or too embarrassed, to go to the probation offices, to get the help which is available to them. The level of involvement varies, some families routinely use the project, others do not want to engage at all. There is also a Community Service placement within ITHAAD office. This is not without difficulty. Given the strong sense of shame associated with crime within the Muslim community, it was initially found to be more difficult to serve a sentence within this

‘disapproving’ culture. The placement works better now.

Next steps
As Assistant Chief Officer Human Resources, with responsibility for Race Equality in Lancashire, Mary Whyham, leads management commitment to encouraging contact with minority ethnic communities and putting systems in place to enable that to happen. She is also committed to continuing to use a wide variety of actions to promote race equality. A Diversity Manager was appointed in September 2000, and recruitment is currently underway for a Black or Asian Development Officer (in conjunction with the Race Equality Council). There is increasing representation of minority ethnic groups in staff appointment processes and the Black and Asian staff group is now meeting regularly. A management Conference on Race Equality was held at the Gujarat Centre in Preston in February 2001 and a community survey will be carried out during 2001. Both Lancashire Probation Service and ITHAAD recognise that more can be done to overcome the difficulties inherent in building partnerships between a large, predominantly white, public sector organisation and a small minority ethnic one and building the capacity of minority ethnic groups to work within the Criminal Justice System. In the context of an annual review of all partnerships, to ensure they provide value for money and contribute to service delivery, targets have been set for ITHAAD for the first part of 2001. These provide for continued steady growth in the use of the project at both formal and informal levels. Progress will be supported and monitored by the senior probation officer responsible for partnerships. At the same time Lancashire Probation Service has started work to “increase the number of

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partnerships with ethnic minority groups” and “set up a partnership forum with minority groups to prepare them for applications for partnership and increase their knowledge of the service”. (Towards Race Equality – Action Plan Lancashire Probation Service 2000) This is agreed by senior management and the Probation Committee and will be reviewed in March 2001, with new targets being agreed as necessary. Money for each operational cluster (group) has been set aside in the current partnership budget, to support work with minority ethnic groups which is linked to crime and disorder activity. This is to ‘pump prime’ initiatives and encourage greater visibility of the service working alongside partners to enhance services to Black offenders and their families. The Service is also actively involved in supporting existing Race Equality Councils, and bringing new ones on stream. LPS staff sit on the sub groups of these councils which deal with racial harassment.

culture (for example drink, drugs and joy riding) as well as that of their family members and community heritage. 2 Develop a learning culture among staff. Much of the early progress in Lancashire stemmed from staff readiness to examine and develop their working practices. They used feedback from surveys and analysis of their work to develop innovative projects to build understanding with the minority ethnic communities. However, roles and responsibilities change and each individual has her or his own personal beliefs, attitudes and behaviours. Continuous development takes sustained effort including routinely challenging ‘casual’ racist remarks made by offenders or staff, updating learning about minority ethnic communities and consistent involvement of link workers. Provide training which models working with different cultures. Staff need raised awareness, basic and specific information about race, culture and religions as well as training in antidiscriminatory practice. Link workers need to understand the Criminal Justice System and Probation Service processes. Joint training with partner organisations will help to build both the relationship and mutual understanding. Managers at all levels need to develop the relevant competencies to understand their role in supporting and promoting good practice. Develop a culture of investment as well as performance. The Probation Service is developing a performance management culture based on the need to demonstrate effectiveness. There are policies, procedures and occupational standards to support equality in working with offenders and building partnerships. However, the drive for performance, with increasing workloads and

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Lessons learnt
1 Do not make assumptions about community cultures. In order to work sensitively and effectively with minority ethnic communities, it is vital to really understand them and the key agencies within them. Within any minority ethnic community there will be a variety of norms and expectations. For some families with a South Asian heritage there are specific expectations of men and women, daughters and sons. For some there are different values, beliefs and attitudes to crime and punishment as well as the broader cultural and religious practices. There are also likely to be significant differences within the first, second or third generation minority ethnic groups. Young people can be influenced by the youth

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pressure on resources, runs the risk of minimising the time and energy it takes to build effective relationships with communities. Consequently it is necessary for senior managers and Probation Boards to provide appropriate levels of support for this work. For example, a link worker and probation officer jointly attending meetings can either be seen as a waste of resources, or a way to significantly enhance mutual understanding leading to better communication and more effective practice. The recently published Probation Circular 4/2001 Joint Agreement on Priorities and Employee Care provides services with an opportunity to revisit priorities and therefore confirm their commitment to working with minority ethnic communities as ‘mainstream’ activity. 5 Learning needs leadership. In most organisations there are ‘nuggets’ or ‘pockets’ of good practice. There is a clear role for senior manager to provide leadership in demonstrating that such work is valued, expecting others to learn from it and adopt such practice themselves. Be willing to try innovative things. It is hard to predict success and so it is important to take time to find out what will work. For example, the cultural view of different art forms will influence what constitutes better ways of communicating with different communities. Word of mouth, poetry, art and drama may be a great deal more effective than more conventional notices, leaflets and other written communication. Much of the success of the work done in East Lancashire has been based on the willingness to try more experimental approaches to working with the particular Asian community, as well as delivering the mainstream probation agenda. Furthermore, as this case shows,

development does not need to cost a great deal, and the ability to respond quickly, as small amounts of money for local investigations and initiatives become available, can be very useful. 7 Understand and bridge the gap between organisational cultures. Whilst it is vital for public sector organisations to demonstrate accountability and adopt proper procedures in their relationships with partner organisations, voluntary organisations may find it hard to match them in tendering and performance monitoring procedures. They may not share the same imperatives of keeping time logs and records so that basic performance data may be hard to get. It is important to examine the appropriateness of probation processes for voluntary organisations and build the capacity of the local communities, and their associations, to access resources and activities. Build a partnership culture. Inter agency working and funding is essential for success AND are increasingly available. In this instance a university, a health authority, youth service and school as well as ITHAAD have all contributed to enabling the probation service to work with minority ethnic communities. Private sector initiatives, public private financing, and more recent Community Strategies and Community Safety Strategies, all provide opportunities for partnership working. This needs different skills and practices to single agency work. For example, a greater need to clarify objectives, roles and expectations in order to avoid potential misunderstanding and misguided efforts. Independent agencies can be invaluable. A major benefit of a bi-lingual, or multilingual, link worker lies in providing a bridge between minority ethnic communities and the service, whilst being seen to be

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independent. Although accurate translation is important when communicating in a second language, what is more important is that he or she can take account of nuances in language, ask informed questions and provide insight and explanation. When the potential for conflict, misunderstanding or stereotyping is high, sensitivity to, and detailed knowledge of, cultural issues are vital to equitable service delivery. 10 Understanding – the first step. Whilst better understanding between cultures is important, it represents only one step towards greater representation of minority ethnic groups within the probation service, more effective supervision of minority ethnic offenders and better services to their families by probation staff. Furthermore, where minority ethnic groups are very small it may be necessary to look beyond the local area for support and opportunities for joint working.

minority ethnic communities and probation staff can flourish? 4 What training, or other activity, have you undertaken to enable staff to understand the various cultures within minority ethnic communities and how to work with them in a way that values diversity? What do you do, or need to do, to ensure that learning from local initiatives is applied across the service? What have you done to ensure that all staff routinely use the support available to demonstrate their commitment to working with offenders and their families from minority ethnic communities? How is work with minority ethnic communities recognised in your service? Is working with minority ethnic communities identified as a strategic aim in your service? Does it require more resources, and if so, what steps have you taken to secure them, or justify the appropriate level of funding? Does your service have a clear policy and strategy for working with minority ethnic communities, which is communicated effectively and implemented sensitively?

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Benchmark questions
In reviewing and developing your work with minority ethnic communities you may wish to ask the following questions. 1 What do your board members and senior managers do, or need to do, to demonstrate their active support and promotion of working with minority ethnic communities? Are minority ethnic groups represented on the board and in senior management? Is there a ‘champion’ for working with minority ethnic communities? What do leaders, at all levels in your service, do to create and sustain an environment where better understanding between

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10 What steps have you taken to develop effective partnerships with agencies which are representative of the minority ethnic communities in your area? How is this monitored? How can you build continuity into the processes? 11 Does your service, and any partner agencies, have offices which are accessible and welcoming to families of offenders from minority ethnic communities? 12 Do you make appropriate information available in relevant languages for minority ethnic communities in your area?

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13 What processes are in place to enable you to develop, deliver and review activity to build and sustain better working with minority ethnic communities? 14 What steps have you taken to encourage/ensure that the service’s workforce more accurately reflects the percentage of minority ethnic people in the local community? 15 What processes have you got to gain feedback from staff about their own and the service’s approach to working with minority ethnic communities? 16 Do you regularly seek, analyse and take action on feedback about your service from the minority ethnic communities in your area? 17 How do you monitor the extent to which working effectively with minority ethnic communities can and does contribute directly to your organisational outcomes? 18 How can you develop a culture of continuous learning, innovation and improvement in working with minority ethnic communities, so that the links are integral and knowledge is spread automatically?

References
HMIP, (2000) – Thematic Inspection Report, Towards Race Equality, Home Office Galbraith, I (2000) – Asian Offender Project Report, Lancashire Probation Service Bellfield, E & Galbraith, I (1995) – Asian Project Lancashire Probation Service Frank B & Galbraith, I (1996) – Brierfield Arts and Drugs Project Lancashire Probation Service Lancashire Probation Service (1998) – Specification for services to enhance Probation Service provision for service users and their families from the Pakistani community in Pendle. Shazia Bibi (2000) – ITHAAD Asian Offenders Project 1998-2000, ITHAAD Community Development Project Galbraith I (1999) – An evaluation of the partnership between Lancashire Probation Service and ITHAAD, Lancashire Probation Service, Lancaster University and Lancashire Probation Service (1995) Race and Gender Inspection Whyham M, (2000) Race Equality Action Plan, Lancashire Probation Service Probation circular 4/2001 Joint Agreement on priorities and employee care, Home Office

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BEST PRACTICE ON DIVERSITY

Evidence Based Recruitment
Using assessment centres to improve the validity and reliability of recruitment

Section 2

BEST PRACTICE ON DIVERSITY

Evidence Based Recruitment
Using assessment centres to improve the validity and reliability of recruitment

Summary

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ecruiting the best person for each job is vital for the success of any organisation. It is particularly important in public sector organisations where the norm is for long term employment relationships, and especially true for management roles because of the impact managers have on the performance and motivation of their staff, colleagues and ultimately the organisation as a whole. It is too late to find out that a poor appointment has been made when someone is already in post. In a modern, effective probation service, recruitment and selection needs to be (and be seen to be) fair, equitable and effective, yet the thematic inspection Towards Race Equality found that 5 out of 10 services visited had no managers from minority ethnic groups. At the same time, although it is widely accepted that the interview is an unreliable way of recruiting people, it continues to be used as the main tool for recruitment and selection in most organisations. Assessment centres provide a more effective mechanism for assessing and matching a person’s capability and potential to the competencies required in a specific post. This example shows how Middlesex Probation Service, has developed and used assessment centres in the recruitment and selection of managers for the past two years. It was clear that, under previous arrangements, minority ethnic staff were not being successful in promotion and progression and the service was

committed to addressing this. The change in approach took place after a careful review of existing procedures, feedback from previous candidates and an examination of alternative methods. The service wanted to build an integrated process focused not only on recruitment but also identifying development needs in order to help people to perform to their full potential. It describes how they developed the approach, the key features, benefits and costs of it and the lessons learnt from their experiences. For further information please contact the Chief Officer – Human Resources at London Probation Area on 020 7436 7121

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BEST PRACTICE ON DIVERSITY

Evidence Based Recruitment
Using assessment centres to improve the validity and reliability of recruitment

Background

simulations, feedback from peers and psychometric tests” (Moule and Canton Vista, Autumn 2000) During the 1990s management recruitment in Middlesex (and probably most other probation services) was not very sophisticated. It was predominantly based on shortlisting by senior managers, and a panel interview by, and a presentation to, committee members. Although committee members had received rigorous training in recruitment and selection, and despite every effort to make the process fair and equitable, minority ethnic staff remained substantially under-represented in management roles. By 1998 a number of factors came together highlighting the need to review the recruitment and selection procedures. • Since her appointment the Chief Officer Human Resources (Chief Officer HR) had become increasingly concerned about the service’s recruitment and selection procedures and in particular the split responsibilities of senior managers and committee members • The chair of the Probation Committee was also unhappy that the recruitment and selection process did not sufficiently give all staff the opportunity to ‘put themselves forward and be successful’. She also felt that a process based on an application form, presentation and one interview, was not the best way to make informed decisions and good appointments. A more structured

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very organisation has made a poor appointment at some time or other. However skilled the interviewers, interviews remain notoriously unreliable as a predictor of performance, yet they continue to be the main method for recruitment in most organisations. In the public service, the cost of making a poor appointment is particularly significant because of the probability of a long term employment relationship. For example, a manager employed on £25,000 per year for 10 years represents an investment (or cost) to the organisation of £1/4 million and, as important for the individual, equates to 10 years of their working life. This is a significant ‘mutual investment’. There are also the consequential effects of the ‘wrong’ person in the post. These include the time and cost incurred in their supervision, training and development, their impact on the performance and motivation of the staff they manage and the emotional cost to themselves of being in the ‘wrong job’. Assessment centres are increasingly used as a more effective way to recruit people and can be defined as follows “An assessment centre is a fair, systematic process for assessing or selecting staff. Better understood as a process or event than a location, it involves a series of exercises or tests designed to assess how competent a person is at present .....compared to the demands of a future job” (It should be) “an integrated process of key components (which) includes

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approach would not only help candidates, it would also help the panel • Human Resources Advisors in the service were also concerned, having experienced more effective recruitment using occupational and psychological testing elsewhere. With the full support of the Chief Probation Officer, a review group was established and comprised of two Divisional Managers, the Human Resources (HR) manager, Chief Officer HR. It was chaired by a Human Resources (HR) advisor. They agreed that any new process should • include committee members continuing to conduct interviews • incorporate tools to really assess a person’s appropriateness for, and competence in, managing the service and people • enable the recruiting panels to make a more effective assessment of applicant’s abilities • integrate recruitment and selection with a wider developmental process for all staff. Coincidentally, assessment centres for the appointment of new trainee probation officers had just been introduced and, given her involvement in the London Probation Training Consortium, the Chief Officer HR had an opportunity to become a trained assessor and feedback her experiences to the group. The HR advisor was also a trained assessor. It seemed a logical step that the process used to appoint managers should be as rigorous as that used to appoint trainee probation officers.

probation officers but no Black manager. The review group decided to use these vacancies to run a pilot assessment centre. The Divisional Manager for the area was a member of the review group. With the support of a consultant, trained in running assessment centres, they ran a pilot which provided a great deal of learning for everyone. The key points were (i) the need to prepare candidates for the experience (ii) the importance of well constructed activities which were tailored to the job vacancy (iii) the importance of effective administration (iv) and most important, the approach was much more rigorous and effective than interviewing alone. The leadership provided by the Chief Officer HR and her ongoing liaison with the committee, senior management colleagues and trades unions, was crucial. The Probation Committee had already accepted the evidence of under-representation of minority ethnic staff in managerial roles. They quickly saw the benefits of, and approved the proposed change to, using assessment centres as an integral part of new recruitment procedures. They also acknowledged their own need to understand how a centre would work, so that they would have confidence in the reliability of the information it generated. Although this would mean a change to their own role, members were, and remain, totally supportive to the new process, as are the Chief Probation Officer and senior management team. The cost of running the new procedure was carefully calculated and discussed at Senior Management Team and Committee level and the budget required to set up the new procedure was agreed. The then Chair of NAPO – Middlesex Branch who was herself a successful candidate said, that “NAPO locally and nationally does not yet currently have a policy on assessment centres. However, NAPO would support appropriate methods to enable Black staff to achieve

The experience
Piloting the process
Two middle manager vacancies occurred in an area where there were a number of Black

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promotion within the Probation Service, particularly into management grades.”

The development of the assessment centre approach
A number of potential providers of psychological tests were interviewed and Saville and Holdsworth were chosen. (Their tests are also used by the London Training Consortium for Trainee Probation Officers.) In September 1999 the first assessment centre for managers was run with 18 candidates for nine posts. This was unusual, they are usually run on a smaller scale (2-9 candidates). Since then seven events have been run, with 30 candidates and 10 posts have been filled using this approach resulting in 49% of managers appointed being from minority ethnic groups. 3

example the Afro Caribbean newspaper the Voice and Sunrise radio have been used.) There is also the provision for existing managers to be considered, if they have made a special appeal for redeployment as the result of compelling personal reasons. Agree the material for applicants and timetable for the next stages of the process. Brief information about the recruitment process, may be included with the advert. More information, including the dates and that exercises may be used, is normally included in the information pack sent to all applicants. Shortlisted candidates then receive detailed information about the assessment centre and interview process, including what will happen, examples of the psychometric tests which will be used and possibly the topic for the presentation. Shortlist applicants against the criteria, invite successful applicants to attend the assessment centre and make arrangements for any candidates with special needs. Shortlisting is arranged by the selection panel. A selection panel is identified in advance and comprises the line manager, a representative from the HR department and any other colleagues who may be useful in making effective selection decisions. This could be two or three people, with more brought in for an assessment centre. Shortlisting can be done either by the selection panel collectively, or by individual members, and then agreed by all panel members. Care is taken to ensure that there is both a race and gender balance in the process. This was difficult in the past, but using the assessment centre and the panel interview as a whole process, this is now achieved. Design the assessment centre and conduct the tests. Each event is designed based on a careful review of the role, job specification and the specific competencies

The new recruitment and selection process
The new recruitment and selection procedures were adopted and guidelines for managers were published in September 2000. These contain comprehensive notes about the context for recruitment, the process to be followed and designated responsibilities. The key stages are: 1 Check the job requirements. Having checked that the vacancy exists and that there is authority to fill it, the line manager, with support from human resource staff, reviews the job, the job description, the person specification (updating them if necessary) and confirm the competencies required. Advertise. Human resources staff, with support from the line manager, research and decide where to advertise. The vacancy, will either be advertised internally only, or internally and externally at the same time, and the advertising media used are chosen to ensure the widest possible impact. (For

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required. Tools are chosen and activities are developed based on the competencies to be assessed. A combination of generic occupational tests (verbal reasoning, numerical reasoning and data interpretation) and tailor made exercises are used to provide ‘a fair and rigorous test of the relevant attributes’ (Moule and Canton). Every effort is made to ensure that all the tests are as inclusive as possible and generic tests are only used if they are essential to the assessment of key skills. Tailored exercises are amended each time they are used. This is to ensure that they (i) most accurately reflect the needs of the post to be filled and (ii) are valid and reliable tests of the relevant competencies. Test design also takes account of the level of managerial responsibility for each post. (Tests for middle managers would not be the same as those for senior manager posts). Typically an assessment centre would last one day and contain five or six tests. For example • Verbal reasoning • Data interpretation (usually for probation practice managers) or numerical reasoning. The test is chosen depending on whether the job requires more interpretation of information or ability to understand and analyse numerical data • An intray or written exercise (designed to see how candidates would deal with day to day work demands and with conflicting priorities) • A group discussion /exercise (where there are sufficient candidates) to assess oral communication, teamwork, collaborative or competitive skills. The exercise would be designed to include leadership issues if the ability to lead and motivate was also to be tested

• An observation/question based exercise (for example watching a video of a team ‘scenario’ and answering questions to assess the candidates’ sensitivity to the issues and what they would do in a given situation). Some tests provide direct information others secondary. (Moule and Canton refer to the difference between ‘signs’ which are characteristics inferred from behaviour and ‘samples’ which are directly observed behaviours.) Good preparation is essential and designing valid and reliable tests is time consuming but necessary if they are to accurately reflect the nature of the activity in the job itself. Wherever possible all tailored tests are tested with colleagues before being used for assessment purposes. Colleagues who are not candidates are not currently involved in tests. Role plays have not been used because, even with professional actors, it would be almost impossible to ensure consistency, therefore equity of the experience, for each candidate. If a vacancy arose for a post involving training, it would be appropriate to use a training activity/test to assess competence and the service would then consider involving people as an audience/group of trainees. The service does use occupational tests for other roles but recognise that there is more work to do to ensure tests are genuinely appropriate for the job. For example it is now less appropriate to ask for a speed typing test for secretarial and administrative staff because they are now more likely to need quality checking skills and any test used should reflect accuracy rather than speed. For managers the Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ32) is also used. It is not a

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time limited test. It is a questionnaire which uses similar questions framed in different ways to indicate preferred behaviours (or styles) with regard to relationships with people, thinking styles, feelings and emotions as well as team types, leadership styles and reporting styles. However, because it identifies preferences not actual competencies, it is used as a developmental, not assessment tool. (It would only be used to inform the appointment decision making if two candidates were absolutely evenly scored on other tests.) The OPQ is usually completed as part of the assessment centre day but if all the candidates are internal to the service, and there are a number of them, the test may be completed beforehand to save time. The results of the questionnaire are discussed with both successful and unsuccessful candidates as the basis for identifying strengths and development needs.

Line managers
Line managers are involved at all stages starting with the design of the activities to ensure that they are valid tests of the competencies to be assessed. They also help with confirming the validity of the activities (for example the realism of the intray exercise). The immediate line manager of the vacancy is always involved in the assessment centre and other line managers may get involved in marking the activities. The more line managers are involved in design and assessment, the more real, and therefore beneficial, are the tests. Line managers do not mark proprietary tests (although they could be trained to do so given that some of them are already assessors for the trainee probation officers). Human Resources staff provide advice and design the activities. As more minority ethnic managers are appointed they automatically become involved in the assessment centres and the whole process benefits. Lessons are continuously being learnt about the need for vigilance against unintended discrimination, and how to improve and refine activities to ensure their validity and reliability as tests of the required competencies. 6 The selection panel interview. This continues to be seen as an essential part of the process, consistently run in line with the principles of the assessment centre. It consists of three trained committee members, the relevant operational line manager and the Chief Officer HR. The interview needs to be well structured, timed and conducted skillfully, based on good and relevant questions. It is now normal practice for panel members to have examples of the key information they are looking for in response to their questions. However, care needs to be taken to allow candidates enough time to formulate their answers.

Assessors
Eight human resources staff (three of whom are Black) are now trained in occupational testing (level A). Four people, including the Chief Officer HR and HR managers, are also trained to score and interpret the OPQ32 personality questionnaire (level B). They operate under licence from Saville and Holdsworth, and licences need to be renewed annually. During the event each test is rated against five criteria with both positive and negative evidence noted by the assessors. It can be tiring as assessors need to concentrate all day, using listening, observation and evaluation skills in order to accurately and consistently record each candidate’s behaviours in each category. Scores are then collated against the competencies and a summary of the results of all candidates is produced. Assessors operate a gatekeeping process (written work is double marked and observations are cross checked) to ensure consistency and fairness.

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The panel sees the collated results of the assessment centre tests after they have completed the interviews, in order to inform their decision making. 7 Provide feedback to (all) candidates. Extensive feedback (1.5-2 hours) is given by the assessors to all candidates whether they have been successful or not. Different people will attach different value to this feedback. However, it is used to help new managers focus on their strengths and the areas they need to work on in their new role, and help unsuccessful candidates to identify and address their development needs. A review of the OPQ results is also passed to the candidate’s line manager and used on an ongoing basis in supervision and appraisal as the basis for feedback and the identification of development needs. Select the best person for the job and, subject to medical clearance and satisfactory references, appoint them. Arrange start date and send letter of confirmation.

to date copies of all the relevant materials for candidates, assessors and the interviewing panel. She oversees the stock control of occupational tests, score sheets, calculators, stationery and collation of all other materials including the summary sheets of how candidates score against the activities and how they in turn relate to the job competencies. Training is also provided for staff to learn about, get experience of and feedback from the kind of tests that are used in actual assessment. (A different provider is used so that the occupational tests are useful but do not compromise the real assessment process.)

Outcomes/benefits/costs
• The service has a more representative group of managers and diverse management teams. Since using assessment centres, as well as interviews, the percentage of minority ethnic appointments to senior probation officers posts is 49%. Five of the nine SPO appointments from the first assessment centre, were minority ethnic staff which was significantly different from the previous process when they had either not been shortlisted, or had been interviewed but not appointed. An additional benefit is that with more minority ethnic managers becoming more involved in running assessment centres, the process will be better informed, ensuring that it continues to develop sensitivity to, and uphold the principles of, race equality The Chief Officer HR points out that “generally the managers appointed during the past three years have developed well and demonstrated an overall competence in the management role. It is certainly a fairer way to make appointments and better addresses the issue of minority ethnic under-representation perpetuated by the interview only approach”

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10 Induct the person in their new role. A ‘Role Transition Group’ is there to support all new managers and minority ethnic managers are invited to state if they would like additional support and if so in what form (for example group support, an individual mentor or consultant or other options they may wish to suggest). Administrative support is provided by the Chief Officer HR’s Personal Assistant and the Administrator in Personnel. They are crucial to the success of the process. There is a great deal of information and it is no mean feat to coordinate it. They book dates and appropriate venues for the assessment centre and interviews based on the number of candidates. The Chief Officer HR’s Personal Assistant organises secure storage and ensures that there are sufficient up

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• There are more opportunities for more people and consequently a bigger pool of people for the service to recruit from. Having assessment centres as well as interviews has encouraged staff to ‘have a go’ for promotion, knowing that whatever the outcome they will get experience and valuable feedback on their strengths and areas for development. One manager said “I had only been in the service four years, and in a specialist post. I was concerned that I did not have ‘long enough’ service to apply, but the active support of my line manager and colleagues encouraged me and gave me confidence to try”. The chair of the committee says “I believe that people are entitled to find their level and develop their potential, some people need more help than others. This process is not only fairer and more open, it gives people an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities, or if they are not suitable for the post in question, they can be helped to develop the relevant competencies”. Using assessment centres does not obviate the need for highly skilled interviewers and a good procedure, in fact it reinforces it. The whole process must be coherent • The service has more enthusiastic and confident managers as a result of an enhanced selection process. New managers feel they have more credibility with colleagues, and more confidence in themselves and each other, because they have been appointed after demonstrating their competence to undertake managerial tasks in a competitive way rather than just talking about them. There is a developing network among those who have shared the experience and the feedback they receive helps them with their own development and supervision of their teams. One manager said “we can all say we have earned this, and the number of black managers appointed is proof of a fair process”. The experience of the assessment process may make candidates more confident in the interview, but if they are nervous and

under perform at this stage, the results of the assessment process will be taken into account. By providing them with factual evidence to support their thinking, it also builds the confidence of the recruitment panel members • Broader issues get highlighted. For example, consistent use of the numerical reasoning test will help to identify the general level of numeracy in the service. If it is lower than desired it will have identified a general training need, and can trigger the development of appropriate training to ‘raise collective competence’ • The approach ‘feeds’ the development process. Because the OPQ information is used in supervision to look at strengths and identify development needs, it focuses on subsequent development • Having trained assessors in-house gives the service a valuable link to the British Institute of Psychology enabling it to keep up to date with key developments in this field. Other services could buy in the skills or form a local partnership if they prefer or are too small to warrant trained assessors in-house • The positive feedback from candidates undoubtedly contributed to the service’s achievement of Investors in People status • The main costs involved in running assessment centres are time, materials and licenses. In order to use occupational tests, there are the initial costs to buy the test question and answer sheets, the scoring templates and get assessors trained. Running costs include replacing stocks of answer sheets and other materials, and re-licensing assessors. The principle cost of job specific, tailored tests is the time it takes to develop them and test their validity. Intray exercises in particular require numerous copies of various documents, other tests may require videos, calculators, clocks etc., as well as basic

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paperwork. There is the cost of assessor time to establish marking schemes, mark the tests, correlate the information for each candidate and provide feedback and the time to administer the process overall. Although if a number of appointments are to be made, there are economies of scale from running one assessment centre for several vacancies However, the service is convinced that these costs are more than offset by the savings made from the appointment of more effective and enthusiastic managers. 2

tests. However, using occupational tests and activities designed specifically to test job related competencies does lead to the appointment of a more confident, enthusiastic and ethnically diverse group of managers. It can also create a positive network of new managers who have shared a common experience. Transparency is essential. An open, consistent approach is needed for people at all levels in the organisation to have faith in and trust the process (board members, senior managers, existing and potential managers, candidates, staff and HR specialists). Gatekeeping at the assessment stage, an appeals procedure for candidates, and monitoring of the process overall will identify any areas for concern that need to be addressed. Committed and involved leadership is important. For those who have traditionally held sole responsibility for appointing managers the introduction of assessment centres could seem undermining. Senior managers and committee members need to be personally convinced of, and then convince others of, the validity and reliability of the process and how it contributes to effective and fair selection. Invest time in designing exercises to ensure validity and reliability. Whilst simulations can never totally replicate all the circumstances of a real job, exercises can, and should, be designed to realistically test various managerial tasks and be tailored to the level and nature of the particular role. The job description and person specification contribute to well designed tests. Ideally every activity should be tested with colleagues before it is used for assessment. Designers should be prepared to adjust and develop material in order to give candidates the best possible

Next steps
Although all those involved with the approach in Middlesex are confident that it is much more effective than traditional methods, they are anxious not to be complacent. It is too early to accurately assess the predictive validity of the process but early indications are that it is effective. There is already informal monitoring of the process overall and the next stage is to set up a system to review the process and its effectiveness in accurately predicting performance of the new managers. As from April 2001 London will have a single probation service. The five services that are amalgamating will undoubtedly have different recruitment and selection procedures, which will need to be aligned. Similarly with a new Board structure, new members will need training in the resultant recruitment and selection procedures.

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Lessons learnt
1 Evidence based recruitment and selection is demonstrably fairer and more effective than relying on interviews only. No process is perfect and care must be taken in selecting and using

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chance to demonstrate their competence. Shoddy exercises will ruin the event and people’s confidence in the process. Eventually there will be a saving of time, but care must be taken not to re-use tests inappropriately. 5 Equity does not come easy. No test or process is ideal and it is crucial to remain vigilant for unintended discrimination or inconsistency. Any exercise may unintentionally disadvantage minority ethnic candidates. For example, if it (i) refers to an inappropriate issue (ii) uses a situation which may not apply to all candidates (iii) is experienced differently by candidates (such as role play) or (iv) uses words which may have a ‘cultural background’ or nuance. Similarly, the process overall needs to include positive role models and images for women, disabled people and those from minority ethnic groups, and ensure that these groups are represented in the recruitment and selection proceedings. Good and well trained assessors are essential. Whether they are internal or external to the service, assessors need to be trained and qualified / licensed. They need to be highly skilled at listening, observing, analysing and evaluating data. In addition, they need to be able to question subjective information in order to produce a realistic assessment of competence. They also need to be willing and able to provide support and helpful feedback to both successful and unsuccessful candidates after the event so that everyone receives positive recognition and useful learning. This means that successful candidates are clear why they have been successful and unsuccessful ones can use the information as the basis for further development enabling them to succeed in future.

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Success takes time, good organisation and administration. Setting up an assessment centre takes a lot of organisation, co-ordination and accurate up to date paperwork, in order for the process to work well. Do not underestimate the preparation time needed for all candidates and assessors to have the materials they need, when they need them. Effective stock control and security of tests, response sheets, marking sheets, as well as the tailor made exercises, is essential. At the same time candidates need good information prior to the event. In turn this needs to be well structured and organised to get the timing of various tests co-ordinated so that candidates do not get frustrated or nervous by being kept waiting for other candidates to complete things. Don’t underestimate the sensitivity/ concern of other managers. Managers who have been appointed using other methods may need information and support to avoid them feeling excluded from, or demoralised by, a more confident group of new managers. Existing managers who apply for a post now subject to the assessment centre process may be resentful at having to ‘prove’ themselves in this way. Integrated processes and working in partnership are necessary. Various management processes need to be integrated for this approach to work. Job descriptions and person specifications need to be current and accurate in order to identify relevant competencies. Supervision and appraisal processes need to work well for the feedback about strengths and development needs to be used effectively. Line managers need to be involved at all stages and committee members, senior and line managers and HR staff all need to work closely together for the process to work well.

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Benchmarking questions
In reviewing and developing your recruitment and selection processes you may wish to ask the following questions. 1 What do your board members and senior managers do, or need to do, to demonstrate their active commitment to fair, equitable and effective recruitment and selection processes? What do leaders, at all levels in your service, do to create and sustain an environment where all staff are encouraged to develop their full potential, and have access to opportunities to do so? What training and support do you offer to staff seeking promotion? How current, effective and inclusive are your recruitment, selection and promotion procedures? How could they be enhanced? What steps have you taken, or need to take, to ensure a race and gender balance in recruitment and selection panels and processes? How much time do you invest in tailoring the recruitment process to enable you to assess the candidates against the job requirements? How are line managers encouraged to contribute to your current recruitment and selection processes? What more could they do? What is the role of HR specialists and how can they contribute to developing better processes? How well does recruitment and selection link to other management processes such as supervision, appraisal and training? How could the connections be improved?

10 What steps have you taken to get feedback from candidates about their experience of your recruitment and selection processes? 11 What evidence have you got to demonstrate that your processes are inclusive and do not (even inadvertently) discriminate against minority ethnic candidates? 12 Could/should you develop and use an assessment centre in recruiting managers? 13 Or which other services or agencies could you work with to develop a joint approach? 14 How can you develop a culture of continuous learning, innovation and improvement in your recruitment, development and promotion processes?

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References
HMIP, (2000) – Thematic Inspection Report, Towards Race Equality, Home Office Moule, N. and Canton, R.(2000) – Towards a Probation Service Assessment Centre, Vista Volume 6, Number 1, Autumn 2000 Human Resources Department – (2000) Recruitment and Selection Procedures, Middlesex Probation Service

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BEST PRACTICE ON DIVERSITY

Spreading the Net
How on-line information supports good practices and promotes race equality

Section 3

BEST PRACTICE ON DIVERSITY

Spreading the Net
How on-line information supports good practices and promotes race equality

Summary

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he Macpherson Report (1999) acted as a catalyst for many Probation Services to reassess their policies and procedures regarding equal opportunities and anti-discriminatory practices and the subsequent Thematic Inspection – Towards Race Equality (2000) emphasised the need to support the reassessment with actions. The recommendations include improving service delivery to minority ethnic offenders, supported by effective recording and monitoring systems, the sharing of good practice and relevant training for all staff. At the same time, the past few years have seen a revolution in information technology and its effect on the way organisations can work, with information available 24 hours a day. With the appropriate hardware, infrastructure and ‘off the shelf’ software, it is now relatively easy to not only access the Internet, but also to create a tailor made intranet site. Intranets are ‘closed’ systems which means that they can only be accessed by designated people, usually within one organisation, whereas the Internet is ‘open’ to anyone inside or outside the organisation. A significant feature of both systems is the ability to make a great deal of data available and easily accessible to people at any level and location in the organisation provided they have a personal computer. As a small service, with staff spread over twelve different locations, Suffolk Probation Service has, at times, had to find innovative solutions to sustaining its commitment to equality and

openness. It had already established a group to promote its commitment to Race Equality when the Thematic Inspection Report was published. This example shows how this Service has developed an effective and modern solution using information technology, and an intranet site, with access to the Internet, as a means of addressing the issues identified above. The intranet provides them with the opportunity to access a substantial database with information about the service, its policies, procedures, performance and activities as well as the national framework within which it operates. In particular it can inform and support the commitment to working towards race equality by providing the following: (i) relevant information/feedback about their own and the service’s performance against national standards – particularly in relation to minority ethnic offenders information about minority ethnic cultures and faiths – to inform their practice

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(iii) training material and training opportunities – to develop their practice (iv) a range of other relevant sites on the Internet – to inform and develop their work. Since launching the intranet in September 2000, it has grown exponentially and staff are being supported and encouraged, not only to use it, but also to contribute to future developments. The intranet is now complemented by a website. This enables the service to share its approach and work more closely with other organisations in the Criminal Justice System and to provide

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information to the general public about its services, its approach to race equality and forthcoming job opportunities. Although it is currently too soon to evaluate these initiatives, early indications are that they will be successful. For further information please contact Martin Garside at Suffolk Probation Service on 01473 408130 or Email him at Martin.Garside@probserv.suffolkcc.gov.uk

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BEST PRACTICE ON DIVERSITY

Spreading the Net
How on-line information supports good practices and promotes race equality

Background

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uffolk is a geographically dispersed rural county reflected in a probation service which employs 240 staff in 12 different locations (four major sites and eight satellite offices). The overall minority ethnic population of 2%, could, if taken on face value, lead to an attitude that race equality is not a significant issue. However, the Black and South Asian population in the town of Ipswich is 6% and there can be up to 30% minority ethnic offenders in the three prisons within the county. Furthermore, Suffolk Probation Service has long held the view that its commitment to equal opportunities is fundamental to its dedication to being fair and just to all service users and staff, and working towards race equality is a central part of that commitment.

to policy and statutory responsibilities with the Home Office, unions and the Central Probation Council. 3 To facilitate the rapid implementation of improvements.

The Race Equality Strategy Advisory Group
The publication of the HMIP Thematic Inspection – Towards Race Equality emphasised the need to raise the profile of that commitment just as, almost simultaneously, in June 2000, Suffolk Probation Service set up its Race Equality Strategy Advisory Group (RESAG). RESAG has the following objectives: 1 To operate as a consulting group which enables the Board to review a range of race equality issues in the context of a two way relationship. To establish and maintain links with regard

Strong commitment and leadership from the Probation Board and its chair is evident. Firstly, the Chair of the Probation Board identified staff training in race awareness as a clear priority. Secondly a board member, Subhash Modasia, took responsibility as chair of RESAG with the other seven members of the group being drawn from a range of roles and ethnicity. RESAG has a sub group to examine effective practice with minority ethnic offenders and racially motivated offending, which is chaired by the Assistant Chief Probation Officer with responsibility for effective practice. The main focus of this group is on service delivery opportunities for minority ethnic staff and staff training in race awareness. (See recommendation 12 in the Thematic Inspection Report.) However, whilst recognising that all staff would benefit from training in race awareness, there were insufficient resources at that time to do it (no provision in the budget for the level of training that was anticipated). An innovative solution was required and was found in the information technology developing in the service.

Information technology
For a number of years Suffolk Probation Service has had a non NIPSISS network with intranet access for staff in all locations (although this was

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not used as fully as it might have been). The service had been purchasing personal computers (PCs) slowly over a period of years and took the opportunity to update its stock and complete the roll out during the process of ensuring Y2K compliance. With 150 PCs in 12 locations, most staff now have their own PC, generally less than 18 months old. The service has been using the Integrated Case Management System (ICMS) for some time which enabled staff to access a comprehensive range of practical reports including those on National Standards and Enforcements. Both Steve Porter as Senior Probation Officer Information Technology, and Mike Vaughan as Database Administrator, were appointed at the end of 1999. The service’s clear intent of building its intranet capability and products was reflected in their Job Specifications. Once appointed, encouraged by the chair of RESAG and the Board to be creative and look to develop a capability, they explored various options and, from their research, concluded that Macromedia Dreamweaver and Fireworks were the most appropriate packages for Suffolk Probation Service’s needs. Again after careful exploration, Steve, Mike and their colleagues in the Information Technology Team all undertook an external eight week course of evening classes during the summer of 2000. The service paid for the course but staff did it in their own time. With this and further training provided by Macromedia, Mike Vaughan rapidly developed the skills to take on the role of webmaster, designing the intranet site, links, pages and associated logos and icons. Most pages have a standard format which was tested and reviewed in house to ensure that staff were comfortable with the design and that the screens were perceived to be both useful and user friendly.

The experience
By the summer of 2000 a number of things had come together. ICMS proved to be an ideal database on which to build the service intranet, which was launched in September 2000, using the existing hardware, and Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 browser to provide access. Given the sensitive and confidential nature of probation work and the individual and collective reports it generates, the intranet needs to be a ‘closed’ and secure system for this work. However, the facility also provides references and links to ‘open’ Internet sites which contain a wide variety of relevant information, which is invaluable to staff, not least to inform their practice in working with minority ethnic offenders. The service was immediately able to identify and capture the key content in four areas: 1 2 service delivery (from ICMS) the Shap calendar of religious events (a number of copies had been purchased but were not available to every member of staff) the Association of Black Probation Officers website a Practice Model or ‘Route Map’ to assist with Anti-Racist Practice

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Raising awareness of cultural and religious issues
The availability of information on the intranet also provided the innovative training solution mentioned earlier, a tool to meet training needs in a different way. It is obvious that information is a key element in raising staff awareness and understanding about the issues specific to minority ethnic cultures and religions. It was also apparent that not much of this information is readily available in books, even if the service

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could afford to buy sufficient quantities of them for a geographically dispersed workforce. On the other hand, the information part of race awareness training could be delivered using the intranet by creating a Race Equality page, behind which is a wealth of information. This has been described as “like having a reference library, with shortcuts to using it, available on your desk”. (The service is now in a position to complement this approach with training sessions in Race Awareness – see the next steps section of this paper.) Initial training for staff to use the intranet did not need to be extensive as the Microsoft system it uses is well known and easy to follow. However the Data Administrator initially visited each site, met staff and attended team meetings. There are also Team Information Assistants at each centre to provide support to field staff if they need help in using the system. Because the intranet provides staff with access to information that would otherwise not be possible, the main issue is to encourage them to become accustomed to using the intranet as part of their normal, everyday routine. They need to see the intranet as their main reference point, for accessing specific information when they need it and general news when they want it. All new staff now receive basic IT training as part of their induction to the service, including how to use the intranet.

Click on the Home Page for Suffolk Probation Service The Suffolk Probation Service home page has 12 icons at the top of the page to choose from in order to access further information. They are currently

They remain at the top of every subsequent screen for easy navigation around the site. The home page also has an icon to invite comments, questions and suggestions to be fed back to the web master. There are only two more steps to using the intranet to explore information about Race Equality. Click on the Practice Initiatives page This offers a further eight choices (the graphic Icons have not been reproduced here)

Click on the Race Equality page This has a further nine icons to access useful sites and more information

Using the intranet
All PCs are set up with a home page, which is the entry point to one of three systems, the Home Office Internet site, the County Council’s intranet site and the Probation Service’s own site. Samples from screens are shown below. " Given that these pages provide the names, dates and information about the main religious festivals and observances of different faiths, they could be an appropriate source of research for a staff

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member before working with an offender whose faith is unfamiliar to them. " These pages contain material generated by " the Service which a member of staff may wish to check before or during work with a minority ethnic offender, or a racially motivated offence. It could just as easily be used in a conventional training setting but is accessible as and when an individual needs it via the intranet. " " These pages provide up to date information " about events and actions in the service The remaining three icons provide the link to websites of other organisations, most of which needed very little tailoring and no more than an hour’s work to link them to Suffolk’s intranet. Click for other information To use the intranet for other information it is simply a matter of clicking on one of the other icons at the top of the screen.

icon leads to a training notice board and training information. The notice board enables staff to see at a glance what training is forthcoming, when and where, which not only reduces the number of queries and reminders made to the training team, but more importantly, enables staff to book directly on to a course. % National standards and ICMS icons lead to pages which enable individual members of staff to monitor their own performance against the service as a whole and national standards criteria mentioned previously. Whilst the vast majority of the information in these domains is accessible to all staff, some of the reports contained here are restricted and accessible only to those with appropriate passwords.

Maintaining the intranet
The Data Administrator updates the sites regularly, two or three times a week. He has no fixed routine but emphasises the importance of keeping the content current, creating and sustaining staff interest. The front screen has all the new information as it emerges and as information here is replaced, it is moved to other pages. Currently nothing is discarded so staff can refer back to old information, which is regularly archived. He keeps his own calendar of events to provide a prompt to removing items that are past their date. He also keeps his own knowledge base up to date by regularly attending the (free) seminars run by Macromedia. At the same time the Chair of RESAG and the IT manager meet regularly to explore how to move things forward. Although they invite staff to identify or provide content for the site, currently material is mostly generated and collated by the IT Team in general, and the data administrator in particular. However, they emphasise how important it is for this to be reversed so that staff are the prime

Examples # The news icon links to any useful article or report from recent newspapers and the staff journal has an index of the latest issue and back issues for staff to click on to access specific articles. Although they are still available on paper the intranet provides news in a more readily available format to all staff. The staff manual pages have all the information referring to terms and conditions and employment practice previously available in text form in a limited number of offices. The meetings icon leads to dates, agendas, membership and minutes of all the main meetings held in the service. The training

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source of information, ideas and other relevant websites. They provide continued encouragement for this, and when it happens it will represent the real, desired shift in the culture of the service.

Moving onto the Internet
The intranet in turn provided an ideal platform from which to launch the service’s Internet website in December 2000. Currently a small site, it is developing rapidly with major steps being taken as this case study is being written. The home page provides access to three areas: 1 information about the service and includes non sensitive and non confidential information from the intranet site; information relating to staff vacancies and recruitment and selection processes. There have already been enquiries about vacancies posted on the Internet and interest in a forthcoming open day where limited access to the intranet will be set up for visitors to see and use; and information about race equality from Suffolk’s intranet and links to other relevant sites.

Probation Service the intranet has been described as “a catalyst, providing staff with a central, constant and consistent source of up to date and accurate information (including what is required to improve practice) in the right format and correct level of detail, with improved speed of dissemination”.* The system enables case recording to be updated overnight, providing current information rather than statistics at the end of the month. This means that “this kind of database also provides information and a forum for professional practice which is both effective and egalitarian”* • Ready access to the case recording database has made a significant difference to staff practice and performance. It has forced better practice by highlighting the need to log all work. (If it is not on the system, it does not exist for service reporting purposes, which in future would almost certainly impact on the level of service funding). Initially with ICMS information was available, but on a monthly basis. Now information that is captured daily and updated by the central server overnight is available to staff the next day. This has turned attitudes to good practice on its head. Because staff can access information about their own performance, their team’s performance and that of the service as a whole, as well as examples of good practice, they can take steps to improve their own outcomes. It has also encouraged staff, who take a pride in getting high levels in reports, to build on their success. At the same time with a growing user base it is apparent in the service that sharing good practice is also easier. “...collaborative working is a lot easier now” • It has also re-awakened interest in, and commitment to, Race Equality in the service. 1 The service is keen to publicise RESAG and provide and sustain a high profile for its work. With so many groups meeting it
both quotes from Suffolk Probation Intranet – S Modasia and S Porter

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Clearly it is vital that the closed system and data it includes is not accessible from the Internet and great care has been taken to ensure security behind what is called a ‘firewall’.

Outcomes
• The intranet represents a remarkable tool for building a new culture in the organisation. It requires a fundamental attitude to sharing information, and a commitment to openness that has not always been apparent in either public or private sector organisations in the past, where the attitude that ‘information is power’ could all too often be seen. In Suffolk

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could have been seen as ‘just another group’. The intranet (and the paper version of the Staff Journal) enables the service to raise awareness and the profile of the group by publishing something every month. 2 Ready access to ‘a library on line’ is useful for any service, but invaluable to a small one with very limited resources. Much of the information about the cultural and religious backgrounds of minority ethnic offenders is not in books. However, it is readily accessible from the intranet or wider sources on the world wide web and is essential for better understanding minority ethnic issues. Given that the site is growing so fast and getting more interesting, it has facilitated interest in diversity in the widest sense. “We can interact much better if we understand ourselves and other people.” This in turn has enabled staff, especially those in more remote offices, who may otherwise feel isolated, to work with more confidence and assurance on these issues. Suffolk has 5% minority ethnic offenders in each type of probation order, which means that some staff may not routinely write reports on, or regularly work with, minority ethnic offenders or those committing racially motivated offences. With information about good practice as well as cultural issues mentioned in the last point, they can remind themselves about cultural issues, make better informed decisions and therefore work more effectively with offenders. Access to Internet sites for groups such as the Association of Black Probation Officers provides important support to Black staff in the service.

of change in the IT industry, they endeavour to keep up to date with technological changes. An external review of the systems has led to a number of enhancements and the service is currently considering a major design upgrade • The intranet has already proved to be a significant resource for training in the service, providing invaluable data for both existing staff and new recruits. This will be even more important in the coming years when it is anticipated that more Probation Service Officers will be recruited and instead of the six Trainee Probation Officers in the past, there will be 21 over the next two year period. Although there will be an increase in Practice Development Assessors, from two part time to four full time staff, accessing material on the intranet will be an essential part of the development for all these staff and provide important backup to the training team. However, given that the vast majority of school leavers and young people have higher expectations and expertise in using computers, building the intranet and Internet facilities in Suffolk is important • Other benefits include saving resources. Although the information is growing exponentially it is cheap to access. “Information is at your fingertips, you are not waiting for it nor wasting paper.”

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Next steps
Keeping up to date. Sustaining the progress made is vital and simply keeping the content relevant and up to date takes resources; currently it is done by the Data Administrator every 2-3 days but the task is expanding. The IT team have already identified the need to understand more about copyright and other issues and have some concern that there is a real risk of the network architecture becoming out of

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• In order to sustain these outcomes the service is committed to continuous improvement. The IT team are continuously developing their experience and expertise and, despite the rate

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date. Keeping in the forefront of innovations in intranet design and use is essential. Sustaining and expanding the user base. Encouraging all staff to use the intranet more regularly and effectively continues to be a challenge. The service plans to make the Best Practice guidelines easier to use and interactive with examples of good practice in specialist areas readily available to users. Complementing the information for staff with training. The service has just started a programme of race awareness training. A pilot course received very positive evaluation and the resultant two day training course for everyone in the service is being rolled out over the next two years. Share the knowledge and experience. Suffolk is committed to continue sharing its experience with other services, agencies and the Home Office, seeking to impress on them the benefits of this approach. Expanding inter agency communication. There are emerging opportunities to share information and work in partnership with other agencies in the Criminal Justice System. For example the Government Secure Internet (GSI) offers a way forward for organisations in the Criminal Justice System to exchange information within a secure environment. It is understood that this approach is currently being explored. 2

with limited resources and yet it has made substantial inroads in this field in a very short period of time. Provided that there is senior management commitment and a basic computer infrastructure in place, suitable software is available. Webmaster skills can readily be learnt making it possible to develop an information and learning resource for staff. Leadership is key. It is essential that there is encouragement and support from Board level to try new things. The IT team had the capability to realise their potential and develop the intranet site, but they needed a positive environment in which to do it. (This is true of many initiatives). Continuous learning is the norm. The IT team wanted to know more about the principles and practice of the intranet and Internet. They undertook training together to form the foundation to move forward, but technology continues to develop exponentially and keeping up to date is essential. You need to ‘learn as you go’, attending seminars and ongoing training. An egalitarian and open attitude to information is essential. A well constructed intranet site, let alone access to the world wide web, means that anyone (in the organisation) can access information, at any time. Some reports can have restricted access via passwords but the principle is that such information is only valuable if it is a dynamic product of the organisation which owns it. (This issue may be even more relevant in the future when it will be important to balance the need for security of confidential information with the need for openness about the work of the service, enabling areas to learn from each other.) Furthermore, in order for the information to be kept up to date and therefore interesting

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Lessons learnt
With only six months experience, the service believes it is too early to draw definitive lessons from what they have done, however the following themes have emerged. 1 Any service of any size could benefit from this approach. Don’t assume you cannot do this. Suffolk is a small service

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and relevant IT staff need to be able to take decisions about what and how to edit pages on a regular basis. Whilst it is clear that senior managers need to agree in principle what to publicise and the process protocols, they also need to be comfortable to delegate the daily decisions, not want to control them. 5 AND a secure system is important. With a (public) presence on the Internet you do need to be vigilant that information, which should be kept confidential or within the confines of the service, can be kept protected. In fact you need different layers of security for different information. The government is able to overcome some of these problems by having its own secure Internet, but at present access to this does not extend to Probation Services so they cannot use it to communicate more widely within the Criminal Justice System. Culture change takes time. The active participation by field staff in using the facility has not been instant. The user base has developed slowly with broad use amongst most staff within six months. There is a question of whether they will take the next step and become active creators and contributors to the facility or whether they will expect it to remain IT led, particularly when they are (and need to be) focused on practice development and National Standards. You can tailor a reference library to your needs. In a number of fields, like Race Equality, the information you may need is disparate. Even if it were possible, it would be too expensive to collect all the relevant reference material. Using an intranet site you can tailor the most important information directly onto your

own site or provide reference on your site to appropriate sites on the world wide web. 8 Innovation in recruitment and training. Without the equipment to log the number of hits on the Internet site, it is too early to say how widely it is being accessed, but first feedback suggest that people will use it to access information about job vacancies and then as another route to recruitment. The intranet already provides that flexibility to internal candidates as well as quicker, easier access to information in the staff manual (about to be available on line). The intranet also provides a flexible alternative to the information element in traditional training, complementing other aspects of development. Good quality, specific and relevant material can be available to all staff and given that people have different learning styles, on screen material (particularly if it is interactive) can be a cheaper, more flexible and much more effective way for some people to learn. 9 Beware the runaway train. The speed with which an intranet site can grow and the openness of the Internet raises issues, particularly for a public service, about quality control. There is a difficult balance between promoting equality and openness in the accessibility of information and vulnerability to misuse of the medium. Within Suffolk Probation Service a cross grade “Information Group” has existed for some time as a review body for issues relating to both technology and information policy. This group has now assumed further editorial responsibility for both the intranet and Internet, acting as a focus for creative development, issues of ‘relevance’ and necessary controls.

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Benchmarking questions
In reviewing and developing your use of Information technology you may wish to ask the following questions. 1 What can your board members and senior managers do to demonstrate their active support and promotion of developing information technology (IT) to support race equality in service delivery and human resource management and development? What do leaders, at all levels in your service, do to create and sustain an environment where IT can be used to facilitate the sharing of information, in particular good practice? Is there a ‘champion’ for this work? Does your service have a clear policy and strategy for developing IT? Could it be enhanced? What protocols and skills have you got in your service to support this development? How is the intranet in your service used by staff? Is it seen as integral to developing good practice or separate to it? What is on it? Could its use be enhanced? What steps have you taken, or could you take, to enable all staff in all locations to have access to your intranet? What training, or other activity, have you undertaken to enable staff to develop their confidence and competence in using IT? Does this include online support? What plans or processes have you got to develop online support, and keep it interesting and up to date? What have you done, can you do to encourage staff to use IT as a medium for learning?

10 How does /could IT support the development of effective partnerships with other Criminal Justice Agencies in your area? 11 What do you do, or can you do, to share information about the Criminal Justice System in general, and your service in particular, with neighbouring services? 12 What processes have you got to gain feedback from staff about the effectiveness of your current IT and how it can be enhanced? 13 Do you regularly seek, analyse and take action on feedback about your service from service users and stakeholders? What is the role of IT in securing this feedback? What impact could IT have on improving the feedback? 14 How does IT contribute to supporting and monitoring your organisational outcomes? How could it be enhanced? 15 How can you develop a culture of continuous learning, innovation and improvement in working with information technology?

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References
Modasia S and Porter S (2000) Suffolk Probation Intranet – Suffolk Probation Service Modasia S (2001) RESAG Report February 2001 – Suffolk Probation Service

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BEST PRACTICE ON DIVERSITY

Building the Jigsaw
Towards race equality through monitoring and improving service delivery

Section 4

BEST PRACTICE ON DIVERSITY

Building the Jigsaw
Towards race equality through monitoring and improving service delivery

Summary

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ecommendation 7 in the Thematic Inspection – Towards Race Equality, identifies that Probation Committees and Chief Probation Officers should “take action to improve the overall quality of pre-sentencing reports on minority ethnic offenders”. It goes on to identify how this should be achieved including, “collecting and using comprehensive monitoring data” and “ensuring that quality assurance measures address the particular circumstances of minority ethnic offenders”. Recommendation 15 covers setting targets and implementing measures for the completion of race and ethnic monitoring forms, and 16 emphasises the need to ensure that monitoring systems are in place and the information generated is used to inform and improve practice. Recommendation 9 states that services should “demonstrate that as part of service strategies to meet the different needs of minority ethnic offenders, the development of formal and informal partnerships has been informed by the advice and expertise of local community groups”. This example refers to how services in two very different areas have addressed these recommendations. It covers the background to the approaches in each probation service, their relative experience, outcomes and the common and specific learning they have accrued. East Sussex is one of the rural shire counties with less than 200 staff and a minority ethnic population of below 2%. Working with minority

ethnic offenders represents a small percentage of the overall work of the probation service there. However, its commitment to evaluating and improving services to minority ethnic offenders has been ongoing since the mid 1990s and their approach is proving very effective. In contrast, Greater Manchester is one of the largest probation services in the country with over 1000 staff covering the city and the surrounding towns. There are a number of substantial minority ethnic communities within the area. Greater Manchester also uses monitoring as a key element in developing good practice, together with encouraging staff to take advice from, and work with, South Asian colleagues within a partnership contract. The evidence shows that the quality of pre-sentence reports, sentencing outcomes and probation practice are all significantly enhanced by the resultant better understanding of the issues of culture, faith and ethnicity. For further information please contact Brian Clark in East Sussex Probation Service on 01273 669966 and/or Penny Jones in Greater Manchester Probation Service on 0161 872 4802

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BEST PRACTICE ON DIVERSITY

Building the Jigsaw
Towards race equality through monitoring and improving service delivery

East Sussex Probation Service Background

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ith 189 staff, East Sussex is a small probation service in a rural area with a minority ethnic population of 1-2% (depending on the source used). As the Assistant Chief Officer Brian Clark said “Given our geographical location and identity as a shire county it would be easy to become complacent”. However the service has a long term commitment to equality. In1995 the service conducted an internal inspection on Equal Opportunities, which identified the importance of the Pre Sentence Reports (PSRs) in setting the tone for how the service was experienced by minority ethnic offenders. The inspection showed that at that time Black offenders were more likely to receive custodial sentences than their white counterparts and of those offenders given community sentences, Black offenders received more Community Service Orders than Probation Orders. Two years later a further study showed that although the difference had diminished it still existed. (These findings are very similar to the later findings in the thematic inspection.) Between 1997 and 2000, with strong support from senior management and the endorsement of middle manager colleagues, a programme of continuous review was established to improve the quality of PSRs and so promote greater equality for all offenders. This was achieved

through training of staff, gatekeeping of PSRs and managers meeting once or twice a year to review significant samples of PSRs against National Standards. As a result of the review process all PSR writers received detailed feedback on their own performance and that of their team, the division and service, together with help through supervision to make the changes necessary to improve their reports and therefore the quality of all PSRs.

Experience
In October 1999, East Sussex Probation Service set up the Macpherson Task Group as a positive response to the Macpherson report and as part of the area objective to identify institutionally racist practice within the area and take action to address any poor practice or concerns. The group predominantly focused on service delivery but it took account of human resource issues as they arose. Its aim was to “compare indicators of levels of service and quality in relation to white and black (and other) offenders” (other includes Asian and other European) (Report on Macpherson Task Group March 2000). The review covered five areas of service delivery (i) PSRs (ii) Family Court Welfare reports (iii) National Standards compliance for offenders on Probation Orders, Licences and Community Service orders (iv) Bail hostel acceptance and completion rates (v) a survey of minority ethnic offenders’ experience of the service. It also examined the completion rates for PREM1 (race and minority ethnic monitoring form).

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A comprehensive review of PSRs was conducted using the Integrated Case Management System (ICMS) to examine the numbers of PSRs and their outcomes. PSR quality was checked by reading and assessment against the National Standards criteria. Based on an analysis of over 3000 reports over 15 months, the review showed that there was greater equity in proposals. Of those PSRs proposing a community sentence, the figures were 67% for minority ethnic offenders and 70% for white. Proposals for Community Service were 31% for each group, and for all probation type orders 35% minority ethnic and 39% white. In terms of quality, the Service had scored consistently higher than the national figures, between 77.8% and 94.6% on individual criteria and 81% overall (this is a satisfactory or excellent rating). 3.9% of reports referred to minority ethnic defendants. A sample of 20 Family Court Welfare reports, where one or both parties were of minority ethnic origin, were analysed against National Standards and a questionnaire designed to (i) identify discriminatory language and (ii) assess how cultural issues had been dealt with in the reports. The review found that generally cultural issues had been addressed in a fair and objective way. Some improvements to practice were identified which were shared with the team and dealt with in a team meeting. This involved exploring complex issues of identity and how minority ethnic parties are represented in welfare reports. Bail hostels had higher acceptance rates and significantly higher completion rates for minority ethnic defendants compared with their white counterparts. Although the service was pleased with the results it was difficult to draw conclusions from the small numbers involved. The survey of Black offenders to assess their perceptions of the service was conducted independently and concluded that it was not perceived as racist. However it acknowledged that mistakes did happen occasionally and ongoing monitoring was instigated. Completion

of PREM1 varied between 71% and 93%. (Since then the Assistant Chief Probation Officer (ACPO) with responsibility for race equality has asked all managers to raise the issue at team meetings, to remind officers of the importance of completing these forms and to report back to him on their progress.)

Outcomes
The Macpherson Task Group published its report in March 2000 covering the evidence examined on the service delivered, and the survey of offenders. Both the evidence and the feedback were very positive and, at the same time, the service recognised that there was no room for complacency. The report identified a number of actions and recommendations, including training for staff to raise their awareness and to enable them to challenge racially motivated and racist offenders. It also identified actions to improve PREM completion, monitoring and recording and to continue regular reviews to identify and take action to address institutionalised racism. The service has also recognised the need to develop closer links with other agencies. For example, minority ethnic staff were encouraged to join multi agency support groups because there were not enough people to develop a group within the service. (The ACPO talked to line managers, who in turn have made it clear to staff that this can be done in work time.) Staff working more closely with the police to log racist offences, and working with the Commission for Racial Equality to review policies and strategies.

Next steps
East Sussex Probation Service feels that this review has established a baseline. West Sussex is aware of the issues and is also committed to good practice in race equality and the two

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services are working together in readiness for merging in April 2001. Further quality monitoring of PSRs is already being done jointly through examples from each service being examined by middle managers from the other service against the National Standards. This is in order to share good practice. Once the new service is established in April, a review of all aspects of service delivery will be carried out and will continue on a regular basis. This will include a survey to identify the ethnicity of the beneficiaries of Community Service projects as part of monitoring the impact of the service on society (following up recommendation 18 of the Thematic inspection). It will also include taking the opportunity to review existing protocols with other agencies and partners, especially the courts and interpreter services. It is anticipated that the recommendations of future reviews will be incorporated into the Service Area plan (linked to the ‘customer results’ element of the European Excellence Model – EEM). A revision of the Equal Opportunities Policy is in hand and these actions will be integrated to provide reporting on the effective operation of the policy within the new service. (Work has also been done on recruitment and retention, which is not covered in this paper, beyond noting that regular monitoring of staff recruitment and retention includes monitoring the ethnicity of Community Service supervisors.)

Trafford, as well as the city of Manchester itself. It has a substantial and varied minority ethnic population and a dedicated Equal Opportunities Manager who has responsibilities for every aspect of race equality and diversity. This includes work concerning the Black offenders group work programme, managing a mentoring project and two formal partnerships – the Black Prisoners Support Group and the South Asian Offenders Project, as well as liaison with Bury Metro Interpreting Service. The projects are substantial, well researched pieces of work. The Black Prisoners’ Support Project, for example, is a big partnership arrangement, focusing on work in prison. Unfortunately, it is not possible to cover all these projects in this one paper, but should be noted that there is good liaison between the workers who know each other and work closely together. This example focuses on the work of the South Asian Offenders Project, which is run by the Pakistani Resource Centre. The centre was first established in 1966 to provide support to Asian men. Since then it has grown, become a registered charity and now provides a range of services to the South Asian communities in collaboration with a number of public and private sector organisations. (In this context the definition of South Asian relates to people originating from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.) The services include providing advice and support on housing, unemployment, racial abuse, cultural alienation and immigration, mental and physical health problems and work with women and children on domestic violence and child abuse. There are a number of paid and voluntary workers, one full time and one part time on this project. The South Asian Offenders and Families Project is a formal contract renewable every three years. Its aim is to “manage risk and public protection through a cultural, linguistic and religious approach”. The project was started in 1996, but initially, despite funding and senior management

Greater Manchester Probation Service Background
Greater Manchester is a large probation area, covering Bolton, Wigan, Oldham, Bury and Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside and

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support, monitoring showed that the service delivered to minority ethnic offenders was variable and probation staff understanding of cultural and religious issues was limited. Referrals were made only if the officer knew about the project and thought it was relevant. The Chief Probation Officer has made it clear that as well as risk assessment and reduction of offending, improved working with minority ethnic offenders is a service priority. This commitment, and the feedback from monitoring, led in 1999 to a staff notice requiring staff to at least consult the project when working with South Asian offenders. This lent ‘authority’ to the project, and was a breakthrough which was enhanced by the Equal Opportunities Manager and the project workers visiting teams to develop mutual understanding through case studies, and discussions about the implications of the staff notice. The two workers from the project, a man and a woman, undertake direct work with service users and share understanding of cultural and religious issues with staff. As Muslims of South Asian heritage they are able to offer an informed approach based on personal understanding and experience of the Muslim culture and religion. When working with offenders from other cultures or faiths, they consult with colleagues at the Resource Centre who are of the appropriate culture or faith, or they undertake careful research into the relevant issues. Other workers from the Centre also provide support and cover for the project when necessary. The project workers are also able to reflect and respect the sensitivities to gender in communicating within many South Asian communities. As a law graduate and a social worker they also bring particular professional insights, and relevant skills and experience to this work. Kamran Abassi has been undertaking offence focused work with offenders for three years and

during that time his caseload has increased from four to 75. He advises and co-works with Probation Officers on all types of offending and at all stages from PSR to supervision and resettlement. Given an understanding of the law and a South Asian background, he is uniquely able to challenge offenders’ attitudes and behaviour and contribute to victim enquiry work (exploring the impact of their behaviour on victims). He does this by examining their perception of religious teachings, family and cultural expectations, exploring the principles of Islam and how they can be interpreted differently, and in the context of British laws. For example, it would be much harder to challenge attitudes to women, family honour or the belief in spirit possession, without a detailed understanding of the religious teaching, and wider concepts of family honour, dignity and shame on which the community pivots. Shabana Jamal uses her social work expertise and experience when working with offenders’ families, aware that many may be shocked, ashamed, colluding with, or denying the severity of, an offence based on cultural values and community norms. Families, especially children, may need information about what is happening to their relative. Parents may need to better understand the social context for their children living as young adults within two cultures, the western youth culture and the traditional South Asian culture, and the stress that that can create. She is able to challenge their perceptions of white eurocentric values as well as the relationship between the South Asian faiths and culture and the laws in Britain. She also advises and co-works with probation staff to develop their understanding of many different cultural and faith issues and implications for offenders’ families. Both Kamran and Shabana believe that their ethnicity and sensitivity to, and understanding of, other cultures are essential to them being able to use culturally appropriate scenarios in their work. By being from the same ethnic

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background they can “get in close, break down barriers and share experiences, even provide positive role models for offenders and their families, putting their faith and culture in the context of laws and host society” (Kamran Abassi). By working with probation staff to develop their understanding of offenders cultural and religious backgrounds, they also contribute to better informed, more confident practice and consequently greater parity in service delivery. They are enable to work effectively in ‘building the jigsaw of good practice’ through shared understanding.

co-worked interviews (nine at the PSR stage, 48 with offenders on Community Supervision and eight with resettlement offenders). Although it could be better, this represents a significant improvement especially at the supervision plan stage • There is evidence of similar outcomes for white and South Asian offenders at the PSR stage. Recent monitoring shows that an enhanced understanding of risk and needs has had a significant impact, leading to much more accurate risk assessments, more culturally informed PSRs and sentencing. For example, South Asian offenders have been required to work with the South Asian Offenders Project to address the issues in the PSR as part of their sentence • A recent questionnaire demonstrated that Probation staff have an increased understanding of the multiplicity of South Asian cultures and faiths and how that affects the individual offender in their family and the community. Feedback referred to the project as very helpful and effective leading to better outcomes • A questionnaire to service users has started. Analysis of this to date shows that offenders have a raised understanding of the impact of their offence, are positive about the support given to them and their families, and shows that the community is becoming better informed about the Probation Service. In addition • There is a significant impact on re-offending rates. Where the project workers have been directly involved, over three years and out of more than 300 cases (more than 50% of which were high risk), only three high risk offenders have re-offended • Current programme work with Black and Asian offenders to explore their cultural roots

Outcomes
Evidence showed that in the past minority ethnic offenders did not experience parity of service. White offenders were more likely to have their situations understood, their religious beliefs and cultural norms recognised and taken into account, or researched, as a matter of course. Monitoring throughout 2000 and the outcomes against specific targets for the project show that this is changing. For example: • Taking account of the type of offence, and the type of proposal, figures in three districts in Manchester show a higher take up rate on proposals for Black offenders than for their white counterparts • There has been increased consultation or coworking concerning all South Asian service users to ensure “informed cultural perspective consistently and fairly applied”. The Pakistani Resource Centre staff provide consultation in person, by fax or telephone, prioritising referrals according to risk and need and will co-work interviews at PSR, supervision plan or release stages. The quarterly monitoring for July-September 2000 showed that there were 77 PSRs on South Asian offenders, which converted in to 58 new cases. There were 67

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and history has been well researched and is proving to be effective • It has been possible to share experience and raise the profile of the work of the project with other local agencies and partnerships through a network of liaison and meetings. This has been achieved nationally by presentations at conferences, publication of articles and a (pending) book chapter.

what needs to improve, and how it can improve, is more important. Specific feedback together with examples of good practice is what has enabled individuals and teams to develop the services to minority ethnic offenders and their families. 2 Leadership is a cornerstone to success. Both areas agreed that it is vital for senior managers to demonstrate to staff and reinforce to communities and other agencies, their serious commitment to race equality. It is equally important that there is one designated manager to lead and coordinate the work done in this field. It takes time and planning to build the picture. It has taken both services 5-7 years of continuous monitoring, surveys and development to track the level of the services delivered to minority ethnic offenders and their families. They have needed careful planning and preparation to identify what constitutes useful information, how to collect it and use it. It also takes time for staff to understand the implications of religious teaching and cultural norms and to integrate their raised awareness into everyday practice, then sustain good practice in the light of that awareness. Good information management is essential. The effectiveness of the information collection and management system makes a real difference. Even with a small number of cases to monitor East Sussex found using ICMS invaluable in capturing and analysing data. Their analysis includes checking why PREM might not be completed and ensuring that organisational processes support completion. Greater Manchester has significantly more cases over a larger geographical area. It uses the CM2001 system and has built an effective monitoring process. Over the past year detailed work to ensure meeting and

Next steps
Despite the complexities inherent in effective monitoring when the minority ethnic population varies so significantly across the area, detailed statistics are kept and will continue to be assessed. Information from ACE assessment will also be included in monitoring. A portfolio of good practice case examples, risk assessments, supervision plans and PSRs is near completion. This will be used for workshops, training and reference. A local conference will be held in May 2001 with the aim of helping minority ethnic communities get a better understanding of all criminal justice agencies, with a view to improving recruitment from those communities. The Community Service policy is currently being reviewed to ensure that minority ethnic communities benefit from Community Service (recommendation 18 from the thematic inspection). 3

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Lessons learnt – Both services
1 Good practice is about continuous improvement. Monitoring PSR quality may lead to being able to demonstrate that your service is ‘fair’ but using it as evidence for

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sustaining of targets in monitoring has been very effective. There have been big improvements and the service is now on target. Both services intend that new information systems will enable them to generate and use the information effectively as the basis for improving services to these groups. 5 Involvement makes the difference. In East Sussex managers and staff at all levels have been closely involved in reviews notably the work of the Macpherson Task Group. In Greater Manchester the Equal Opportunities Manager and project workers have been closely involved with offenders and their families, as well as probation staff. This involvement has made a significant difference to the level of understanding of the issues and commitment to good practice in race equality in both services. Positive feedback and learning together leads to better services. Managers in both services (and project workers in Greater Manchester) are learning to assess the quality of PSRs and to give helpful feedback to staff. This information combined with feedback from service users has been important in informing good practice. Where monitoring shows high standards are being achieved staff benefit from positive recognition. Where it shows room for improvement, feedback can be used to identify specifically what needs to be changed. In Manchester staff learning from, and working with, the South Asian Offenders Project workers has heightened their understanding of the religious and cultural context of offending, which has in turn led to better PSRs, more equitable sentencing and experience of probation orders. At the same time South Asian offenders and communities have learnt

more about the British legal system in general and the probation service in particular. In East Sussex the proposed race awareness training and beneficiary survey will be used to develop services further. 7 A holistic approach builds a culture. No matter what the size or location of the organisation, it is showing commitment in many different ways that delivers improved services to minority ethnic offenders. Examples at the corporate level include a Chief Probation Officer highlighting this work as a priority, the revision of Equal Opportunity policies and procedures, clearly stated expectations of staff (in the staff notice) and integrating findings arising from reviews into future Area plans. Examples at the team and individual level include using specific case studies to raise awareness and confidence, the availability of advice, support and co-working and feedback to staff to develop their practice. Like building a jigsaw every person has a part to play in monitoring current practice and developing the behaviours which contribute towards race equality in service delivery. Avoid stereotyping organisations. It may involve different approaches but both large and small organisations can develop processes to effectively monitor and develop the services they deliver to minority ethnic offenders. Be open to interagency working. In Greater Manchester this has meant working in partnership with projects like the South Asian Offenders Project, and in East Sussex it is working more closely with the police to log racial incidents and with other local organisations to find ways to provide support for minority ethnic staff.

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Benchmarking questions
In monitoring, reviewing and developing your service delivery to minority ethnic offenders and their families you may wish to ask the following questions. 1 What do your board members and senior managers do, or need to do, to demonstrate their active commitment to monitoring and, if necessary, developing services to minority ethnic offenders and their families? What do leaders, at all levels in your service, do to create and sustain an environment which encourages staff confidence in, and commitment to, working towards race equality in service delivery? What policies have you got to underpin equitable service delivery? Are they current and effective? Do they need to be reviewed or updated? What processes have you got to ensure that the policies are communicated effectively to staff and are implemented with sensitivity? What training and support do you offer to staff to raise their awareness of minority ethnic cultural and religious issues? How do you encourage staff to use that raised awareness in everyday practice? What processes have you got to gain and use feedback from staff that the policies, training and support they have received promotes good practice? Which other services or agencies could you work with to develop a joint approach to monitoring, supporting or improving services to minority ethnic offenders? What systems have you got to collect and analyse data about service delivery? How

accurate and effective are they? How could they be improved? 10 What systems have you got to review and develop services to minority ethnic offenders? How effective are they? Can they be improved? 11 What resources have you got/do you need to review and develop these services? 12 What steps have you taken to get feedback from service users and beneficiaries about their experience of your service? What do you do with the feedback you receive? 13 Have you got, or do you need to develop, protocols with partnership projects and/or partner organisations (especially courts) in the Criminal Justice System? 14 What have you done, or need to do, to ensure that Community Service projects, and those who supervise them, reflect the ethnicity of communities they serve? 15 How can you develop a culture of continuous learning, innovation and improvement in service monitoring and delivery?

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References
HMIP, (2000) – Thematic Inspection Report, Towards Race Equality, Home Office Clark B, (2000) – Delivering Race Equality in Probation Services, 1st Annual Report to the Home Secretary, East Sussex Probation Service Clark B, (2000) – Report of the Macpherson Task Group, East Sussex Probation Service Jones P, (2001) – Report on the South Asian Offenders Project, Greater Manchester Probation Service Pakistani Resource Centre Information Pack (2000)

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