National Probation Service Magistrates Survey

Thank you for taking the time to complete this questionnaire, designed by the National Probation Directorate and MORI. All the information collected in this survey will be kept in the strictest confidence by MORI, the independent research company, and used for research purposes only. It will not be possible to identify any particular individual in the results. Please complete the questionnaire, answering as many questions as you can. While it is ideal for us to have all the questions answered, your response is still useful to us even if you feel unable to answer some of the questions. Please use the reply paid envelope to return your completed questionnaire. If you have any queries, please call Nicola Hall at MORI (020 7347 3000) or email her (nicola.hall@mori.com).

The National Probation Service is constantly working to improve its service to the community and the courts. This questionnaire is part of a number of measures that will help us to improve this relationship. It is the first national survey of this type. I am confident that this survey will give us a better and useful picture of your needs and views and I would encourage you to spend a little of your time to complete it. If we have sufficient responses each probation area will receive high quality, aggregated data. This will give you information to compare and contrast with other parts of the country and save the effort and expense of similar local surveys. Many thanks for your time

Eithne Wallis Director General, National Probation Service for England and Wales

A - GENERAL
Q1 Please indicate what effect you think each of the following public service organisations has on reducing the level of crime in an area. PLEASE TICK ONE BOX FOR EACH
No effect 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A large Don’t effect know 10

a) The Police b) Schools c) Prisons d) The Probation Service e) The Courts f) Social Services g) Youth Groups h) Neighbourhood Watch i) Local Community Groups

Q2

How effective do you think the Probation Service is at each of the following?
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX FOR EACH

Not at all effective

Not very effective

Quite effective

Very effective

Don’t know

a) The rehabilitation of offenders b) Protecting the public c) Reducing re-offending d) Keeping victims of crime informed when serious offenders are released e) Enforcing community sentences f) The punishment of offenders g) Supervising people on release from prison h) Supervising offenders to do unpaid work in the community i) Working with offenders whose crime is drug-related j) Assessment of risk of reoffending and harm to the public

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Q3

To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX FOR EACH

Strongly agree

Tend to agree

Neither

Tend to disagree

Strongly disagree

Don’t know

a) The Probation Service provides a consistently good service b) I trust the probation service to help protect the community c) I trust the Probation Service to deal effectively with offenders d) I always speak highly of the Probation Service e) The community sentences currently offered are just what I need as a sentencer f) The service provided by Probation is flexible to meet my needs g) The Probation Service understands what I, as a sentencer, need h) I would like to see probation developing new sentences i) Relations between my court and the Probation Service are very positive j) I am prepared to put in a lot of effort to ensure good relations with the Probation Service k) Probation and the courts ultimately share the same goals l) The Probation Service actively ensures the fair and equal treatment of offenders, regardless of their gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation or any other potentially discriminating factor

B - SERVICES: reports
Q4 How would you rate the pre-sentence reports that you receive from the Probation Service on each of the following criteria? PLEASE TICK ONE BOX FOR EACH
Very good Fairly good Mixed Fairly poor Very poor Don’t know

a) The quality and detail of the information included in pre-sentence reports about available sentencing options b) The appropriateness of proposals for sentence in pre-sentence reports c) Analysis of offence/s d) Analysis of relevant background information e) Information about offenders' financial situation and accommodation f) The overall usefulness of pre-sentencing reports in reaching a sentencing decision g) The overall quality of pre-sentencing reports
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Q5

How frequently would you say each of the following statements are true of the pre-sentence reports that you see?
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX FOR EACH

Always

Sometimes

Rarely

Never

Don’t know

a) The format and layout are good b) The written style is clear c) Reports are objective d) A definite assessment of risk is presented e) It is clear what sources of information have been used f) Reports are ready on time g) Proposals for sentencing are realistic

Q6

Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements?
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX FOR EACH

Strongly agree

Tend to agree

Neither

Tend to disagree

Strongly disagree

Don’t know

a) The 15 day turnaround time for presentence reports is appropriate for my needs b) I know when to ask for a specific sentence report instead of a pre-sentence report c) Specific sentence reports I have requested have been helpful and met my expectations d) I am confident using specific sentence reports in appropriate cases e) Specific sentence reports are easily available f) Specific sentence reports are ready on time g) It would be useful to have a report which filled the gap between PSR and SSR

Q7

Which aspects of pre-sentence and specific sentence reports, if any, would you most like to see changed?
PLEASE WRITE IN

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B - SERVICES: Sentencing and Supervision
Q8 Please indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with the following statements about community sentences?
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX FOR EACH

Community sentences. . . a) ... are a punishment for offenders b) ... help to rehabilitate offenders c) ... enable offenders to pay something back to the community d) ... help to protect the public e ... ensure that offenders consider the impact of their offence on victims

Strongly agree

Tend to agree

Neither

Tend to disagree

Strongly disagree

Don’t know

f) ... deter crime g) ... take offenders’ circumstances into account h) ... balance between needs of society and offenders i) ... have long term positive impact on society j) ... ensure the fair treatment of all offenders k) ... are soft options l) ... reduce re-offending m) ... are suitable for offenders whose crime is drug-related n) ... ensure appropriate assessment of risk

Q9

How frequently do you take each of the following factors into consideration when making a sentencing decision?
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX FOR EACH

Always

Sometimes

Rarely

Never

Don’t know

a) Formal guidance provided through magistrates' training, formal sentencing guidelines and other guidance (eg Lord Chancellor's Department etc) b) Information from probation reports c) External information/influences (including media coverage, views of police, religious groups, pressure groups etc) d) Personal experience and perception of effectiveness e) Evidence of effectiveness f) Awareness of prison overcrowding g) Level of risk posed by an an offender to the community

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Q10 Recognising that each case needs to be looked at on an individual basis, to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX FOR EACH

Strongly agree

Tend to agree

Neither

Tend to disagree

Strongly disagree

Don’t know

a) Custodial sentences are generally more effective for persistent offenders b) Custodial sentences are generally more effective for dangerous offenders c) Community sentences are generally more effective for offenders of acquisitive crime due to drug use d) Community sentences have benefits over custodial sentences e) I am more likely to use community sentences now purely because of the prison overcrowding situation f) I am more likely to opt for a custodial sentence if I do not have access to a Pre Sentence Report g) Custodial sentences are the best option to stop spiraling crime

Q11 How well would you say that offenders' compliance with the following are managed?
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX FOR EACH

Very well

Fairly well

Not very well

Not at all well

Don’t know/ no experience

a) Community rehabilitation orders (including those with additional requirements) b) Community punishment orders c) Community punishment and rehabilitation orders d) Drug treatment and testing orders (DTTOs) e) Drug abstinence orders f) Licences (supervision of offenders while on licence) g) Fines h) Curfew orders (tagging)
Q12 Given that not all offenders will comply with their orders, in your view, what improvements could be made by Probation or other criminal justice partners to improve the breach enforcement process?
PLEASE WRITE IN

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C - COMMUNICATION AND CONSULTATION
Q13 Please indicate to what extent you agree or disagree with the following statements.
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX FOR EACH

Strongly agree

Tend to agree

Neither

Tend to disagree

Strongly disagree

Don’t know

a) The Probation Service keeps me very well informed about its role within the criminal justice system b) The Probation Service makes sure that I know about new policies and developments that are of interest to me c) The Probation Service consults me on probation policies and strategy d) The Probation Service listens to my opinions about the service they provide e) The Probation Service explains how it works with other services (eg social services, health, voluntary sector, etc) f) I understand how the Probation Service works with courts g) I understand how the Probation Service works with victims h) I understand how the Probation Service works with offenders

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Q14 a How helpful do you find each of the following sources of information relating to Probation for your sentencing work?
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX FOR EACH

Q14 b Looking again at the same list, which of these sources of information would you like to have access to (more often)?
PLEASE TICK AS MANY AS APPROPRIATE

Very Fairly Not very Not at Don’t know/ helpful helpful helpful all helpful Don’t use

a Information on sentences and programmes run by the National Probation Service b) Locally produced newsletter for sentencers c) Sentencers' information held on your bench or in retiring room d) Information on statistics or other evidence of outcomes of orders e) Other Probation Service information leaflets & material f) Knowledgeable probation staff g) Help in promoting orders to the local community (eg case studies) h) Adequate information on the background of offenders and how they can be dealt with effectively i) Minutes from a regular formal bench probation committee (similar to the old probation liaison committees) j) Attendance at a regular formal bench probation committee meeting (similar to the old probation liaison committees) k) Open days and visits to probation projects or premises l) Court newsletter m)Training about probation n) Personal contact with probation staff o) Information from the central National Probation Directorate p) Information from the Magistrates' Association q) Information from colleagues on the bench r) Information from court clerks s) Information from probation boards

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Q15 For each of the following items which do you feel you know enough about and which would you like to know more about?
PLEASE TICK ALL THAT APPLY

I have sufficient information

I would like to know more

a) The Home Office national standards governing probation work b) Community rehabilitation orders (previously probation orders) c) Community punishment orders (previously community service orders) d) Community punishment and rehabilitation orders (previously combination orders) e) Independently accredited programmes that reduce reconviction (eg Reasoning and Rehabilitation, Think First, sex offender treatment programmes etc) f) Drug treatment and testing orders g) Curfew orders h) The Probation Service's supervision of prisoners released on licence i) The rules of residence and night-time curfews imposed by approved premises j) How to make a condition of residence at approved premises k) Work to improve offenders' basic skills and employment prospects l) Individual offenders' progress
Q16 To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements?
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX FOR EACH

Strongly agree

Tend to agree

Neither

Tend to disagree

Strongly disagree

Don’t know

a) The content of training I receive about probation is appropriate for my needs b) I would like more training events on the work of the Probation Service
Q17 If the Probation Service held an annual event in your region to keep sentencers up to date with developments, realistically, how likely or unlikely would you be to attend?
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX

a) Certain not to attend b) Not very likely to attend c) Fairly likely to attend d) Very likely to attend e) Certain to attend f) Don't know
Q18 If you may be unlikely to attend, please state your reasons why:
PLEASE WRITE IN

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Q19 The Probation Service is keen to improve the way it keeps you informed about new developments, new sentencing options, etc. Through which of the following methods would you most prefer to receive information?
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX

a) Newsletters b) Events c) Letters d) Articles in The Magistrate e) Articles in other publications (please specify) _________________________________________ f) Leaflets/Brochures g) A website h) Other (PLEASE SPECIFY) _________________________________________ i) None, don't want information j) Don't know

Q20 Finally, what in your view would be the three key actions that would help to make the Probation Service more effective in protecting the public and reducing crime?
PLEASE WRITE IN

1 ...

2 ...

3 ...

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D - SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT YOU
(These questions are for analysis only - your views will remain anonymous)
Q21 For how long have you been involved with sentencing offenders?
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX

a) 0-5 years b) 6-10 years c) More than ten years
Q22 In which of the following areas do you sit as a magistrate? PLEASE TICK ONE BOX Avon and Somerset Bedfordshire Cambridgeshire Cheshire Cumbria Derbyshire Devon & Cornwall Dorset Durham Dyfed & Powys Essex Gloucestershire Greater Manchester Gwent Hampshire Hertfordshire Humberside Kent Lancashire Leicestershire & Rutland Lincolnshire London Merseyside Norfolk Northamptonshire Northumbria North Wales North Yorkshire Nottinghamshire South Wales South Yorkshire Staffordshire Suffolk Surrey Sussex Teesside Thames Valley Warwickshire West Mercia West Midlands West Yorkshire Wiltshire
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Q23 Please indicate whether you are:
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX

Q26 Which of the following describes your age?
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX

a) A lay magistrate b) A district judge c) Other: Please specify ___________________________

a) 18-34 b) 35-45 c) 46-55 d) 56-65 e) 65+

Q24 Are you
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX

a) Male b) Female

Thank you for taking the time to complete this questionnaire. Now please return it in the prepaid envelope provided to: MORI, FREEPOST WC3163, London, SE1 1BS

Q25 Which of the following best describes your ethnic background?
PLEASE TICK ONE BOX

White a) British b) Irish c) Other White background Black or Black British d) Caribbean e) African f) Other Black background Mixed g) White and Black African h) White and Black Caribbean i) White and Asian j) Other mixed background Asian or Asian British k) Indian l) Pakistani m) Bangladeshi n) Other Asian background Chinese or Chinese British or other ethnic group o) Chinese p) Other ethnic group

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