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The purpose of this circular is to set out a number of essential actions to be 35/2004
taken by probation boards and other managing bodies so as to improve the
security of the staff and residents of approved premises and enhance public ISSUE DATE:
confidence. 11 June 2004


Please could all staff note the contents of this circular, take action as Immediate
appropriate, and advise the Approved Premises section of the Public
Protection and Courts Unit at the National Probation Direcorate before 1 EXPIRY DATE:
September 2004, that all approved premises now comply with the June 2009
arrangements set out. This includes written confirmation that an up-to-date
contingency plan is in place. TO:
Chairs of Probation Boards
SUMMARY Chief Officers of Probation
The National Probation Directorate commissioned a security audit of all 100 Secretaries of Probation Boards
approved premises, which was conducted last Autumn. The report of the
Chairs of Voluntary Management
auditors raises some issues of concern. We are therefore taking this Committees
opportunity to set out a number of the more urgent issues with regard to the
Approved Premises Managers
security of approved premises.
Board Treasurers
Regional Managers
Tel: 020 7217 0772 Fax: 020 7217 0756 Liz Hill, Head of Public Protection
E-mail: and Courts Unit

Colin Pinfold ATTACHED:

Tel 020 7217 8226 N/A
E Mail

National Probation Directorate

Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London, SW1P 2AW General Enquiries: 020 7217 0659 Fax: 020 7217 0660

Enforcement, rehabilitation and public protection

1. Earlier this year, the National Probation Directorate received the report on security in approved premises that was
commissioned last Autumn. The individual reports will be released to the relevant Area Chief Officer or Committee Chair
during the summer. Nevertheless, the audit findings raise a number of issues of concern which require immediate action.
All probation boards and voluntary management committees should implement these urgently.

These are as follows:

In order to maintain confidentiality and anonymity:

a) The practice of writing residents' names and room numbers etc. on a large white board in the general office must
cease with immediate effect. Such white boards can often be seen by other residents, and can be seen by members of
staff who are not employed by the local probation board or voluntary management committees, and also by visitors. In
some instances information can be read from display boards from outside of the building.
b) In approved premises which photograph residents as part of the normal induction routine, the photographs should not
be on display in any part of the building.
c) Other practices such as the storage of case files, medical information, log books, daily register, etc. should be
reviewed to ensure that information cannot be obtained by casual observation, or that such sensitive items could not
easily be removed.
d) All staff should follow common arrangements, in line with the policies of the Area, for answering telephone calls and
be trained to ensure that firstly they have a standard response to enquiries from unknown sources regarding named
persons (whether resident or not), how to ensure security before confidential information is given and how best to
respond to general enquiries about the work of the approved premises or complaints.

As a contribution to improving staff and resident personal safety:

e) Employers of staff in approved premises (the managing bodies - currently probation boards and voluntary
management committees) must urgently review the training needs of their staff, and ensure that staff have had training in
how to respond to staff alarm calls and other security incidents. Other employers of staff who work in approved premises
(e.g. AWG staff) can separately consider whether it would be appropriate for their staff to have such training.
f) Staff must wear personal alarms provided at all times whilst on duty. Management has a responsibility to ensure that
this happens, that staff are informed and confident about using them and that there are occasional controlled practice

To protect residents from persons with unauthorized access and members of the community:

g) Systems for controlled access to and from approved premises must always be used where installed. A single point of
entry and access to the building is desirable if this can be achieved.

In order to protect residents, staff and members of the public:

h) There must be both regular room checks in approved premises - including bedroom areas, and irregular checks from
time to time, as part of risk management for those offenders who have been known to acquire trophies from offending,
collect paraphernalia which is or supports their offending or have been known to acquire weapons. Potential hiding
places should be made secure wherever possible.
i) There must be control systems in place for any potentially dangerous implements or substances, and these must be
adhered to. In particular knives must always be accounted for.

As general safety measures:

j) Medication must be kept in a secure cabinet and only issued by a nominated member of staff, in accordance with NPD
issued practice handbook and probation circulars (see Probation Circular PC33/2004).
k) Management must also ensure that security in and around the approved premises is reviewed on a regular basis. In
particular, whilst approved premises are not prisons in the community, the public must be confident that residents cannot
leave the building during hours of curfew without staff knowing and that residents cannot enable access to the premises
by unauthorized visitors.
l) All approved premises must have contingency plans which are regularly reviewed. In the first instance there must be
arrangements with other premises within the Area and/or region to move a single or a small number of residents rapidly
on the infrequent occasions that this would prevent public disorder or where their personal safety is placed at risk.
Secondly, there need to be plans which would enable a large scale decant to other accommodation in the event of some

PC35/2004 - Enhancing Public, Staff and Residents' Security in Approved Premises 2

urgent problem which made the building uninhabitable. The plans should be formally written and all staff advised of the
content and methods of activation. Plans should be finalised in consultation with the police and fire and emergency

In connection with Public Relations issues:

m) All Probation Areas should have some general statements about the work of approved premises and the contribution
that they make to public protection (including MAPPA, child protection, prevention of domestic violence, drug and mental
health treatment) which can be referred to quickly in the event of a response being needed by local press.
n) It is important to notify the approved premises section at the National Probation Directorate if there is any unusual
media interest or adverse attention.

To assist night supervision of premises and residents:

o) It is questionable whether premises which do not have double awake night cover meet the requirements of National
Standards in Approved Premises for operating a regime of ‘enhanced supervision’. The practice of no, or only single,
awake night cover is not satisfactory and does not reassure Government Ministers or the public that there is sufficient
supervision - either to protect the wider public or to protect more vulnerable residents. Employers should work toward a
timetable of alternative staffing arrangements which phase out sleep-in arrangements where the member of staff sleeping
is also counted as part of the ‘double cover’ arrangement. This is complementary to the emerging recommendations of
the Approved Premises Resources Review which is intended for wider release in summer 2004.


2. The list of required action is not exhaustive, and all local probation boards and other managing bodies must take
this opportunity to review security in and around their approved premises, and take action as necessary.

3. The findings and recommendations in the survey report which require capital expenditure will receive
consideration from the National Probation Directorate.

4. It is crucial that approved premises maintain public confidence and that there is no complacency over security.

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