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2nd

REVISIONS TO THE ENHANCED


COMMUNITY PUNISHMENT
Probation
SCHEME Circular
PURPOSE: To introduce revisions to the operation of the Enhanced REFERENCE NO:
Community Punishment (ECP) scheme in relation to low risk offenders. 59/2004
These will be with immediate effect.
To give advance notice to areas on further changes to the operation of the ISSUE DATE:
Enhanced Community Punishment scheme on the introduction of the new 23 December 2004
sentencing framework and Unpaid Work requirement in April 2005.
IMPLEMENTATION DATE:
ACTION: Immediate
Chief Officers should:
• Review the risk profile of the Community Punishment caseload in
EXPIRY DATE:
their area and prioritise implementation of those aspects of the
N/A
changes which will enhance the local delivery
• Begin planning for the delivery of Unpaid Work from April 2005
• Notify relevant staff of the date of the National Unpaid Work TO:
Conference – 21 March 2005 Chairs of Probation Boards
Chief Officers of Probation
SUMMARY Secretaries of Probation Boards
This circular gives areas greater flexibility to deliver Community Punishment
to low risk/low seriousness offenders through: CC:
• Reducing the need for full OASys assessments to be produced on Regional Managers
low risk offenders Regional What Works managers
• Introducing greater flexibility in the management of workgroups Board Treasurers
• Maximising the potential for low risk offenders to be supervised by
local voluntary and community organisations AUTHORISED BY:
• Recruiting additional supervisors to work with this element of the
Martin Copsey
caseload
Head of Community Reintegration
It announces changes to the current position on the non-work allowance
within Community Punishment Orders. It also outlines the place of the
ATTACHED:
components of ECP in the new sentencing framework.
N/A
RELEVENT PREVIOUS PROBATION CIRCULARS
None.

CONTACT FOR ENQUIRIES


Email: Janet.Corcoran@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk or telephone: 0207 217 8877

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


Background:

The Offender Management Framework introduces a clear distinction between the way in which cases are managed,
dependent upon their level of risk in relation to both harm and reconviction, as well as the seriousness of the offence. The
current sentence of Community Punishment will, from April 2005, become a Community Order with an Unpaid Work
requirement. Some offenders sentenced to Community Punishment present a low risk of harm and low likelihood of
reconviction.

Enhanced Community Punishment was designed in such a way that its rehabilitative components would be most
appropriate for those at medium or high risk of reconviction. However, the experience since the implementation of the
scheme has been that sentencers have continued to use Community Punishment where the risks of reconviction and
harm are low but they consider that the offence merits a Community Order. Whilst the guidelines recently published by
the Sentencing Guidelines Council1 address the range of sentencing options available for this group, it is highly likely that
areas will continue to have a significant proportion of offenders with this risk/needs profile on their caseload after the
introduction of the Community Order. In these circumstances, it is important that the rehabilitative elements of ECP
should be targeted at medium and higher risk offenders and it will be necessary to develop new ways of managing those
at low likelihood of reconviction who have committed offences of low seriousness. In preparation for the implementation of
the new Community Order, areas will be able to use greater discretion in relation to this group of offenders.

Pre-Court assessment and use of OASys:

Under present arrangements, some Community Punishment Orders are made on the basis of an Expedited Report and
some on the basis of an Adjourned Report. Where a full OASys assessment has not been completed prior to sentence, it
need not be completed post-sentence if:
• A Risk of Harm screening has shown that a full risk of harm analysis is not required
• OGRS has been completed and the likelihood of reconviction is low (OGRS < 41)
• A Basic Skills screening has been completed
Further guidance will be issued in relation to the new sentencing framework before it comes into effect.

Work Group Size:

Where the offenders in a work group all present a low risk of harm and reconviction, subject to health and safety and local
risk assessments, areas may relax the 6:1 offender: supervisor ratio and recruit specific supervisors to work with this
group. They will require input on local policies and procedures and health and safety but would not be required to
complete the full ECP training course. It is recognised that areas must take into consideration not just the ECP issues but
also health and safety issues and any existing local policies concerning the size of workgroups. However, this change will
give areas the flexibility to consider a range of options, such as pairing a trained and untrained supervisor in a large
group, where a 6:1 ratio is not achievable. The 6:1 ratio should normally continue to be applied when there are offenders
at medium/high risk of reconviction in a group. The benefits of smaller group sizes for medium and high risk offenders are
clear since they enable the teaching of problem solving and employment related skills. A priority for low risk offenders is
that they should start and complete their orders in a timely fashion, thereby releasing resources for use with those who
have a higher likelihood of reconviction.

Supervisor Training and Supervision:

In order to deliver all the elements of the ECP scheme, supervisors need to be fully trained and engage in continuing
professional development. It is recognised that the investment in ECP training has been important in enhancing the skills
and professionalism of supervisors and improving the quality of service delivery. However, a number of areas report that
the training and supervision requirements have made it impossible to keep a pool of sessional staff who can be called
upon in cases of holiday absences, illness or other shortfall in supervisor capacity. Staff who are to work regularly with
offenders who are at medium or high likelihood of reconviction must continue to be trained and supervised in accordance
with the ECP guidance. However, under these new arrangements, there will be greater scope for areas to recruit
supervisors for work specifically with low risk offenders. They will not be required to complete the full ECP training course
nor to prepare portfolios. Whilst they should be supervised in accordance with the area supervision policy, they need not
be subject to audio/video monitoring, nor attend Quality Assurance Groups.

Work placements with local community and voluntary organisations:

In response to the implementation of ECP and its rigorous training requirements many areas reduced their individual
placements and those where external agencies supervised offenders. This has resulted in the diminished involvement of
local communities in the management and supervision of local offenders. However, such placements can often be

1
New Sentences: Criminal Justice Act 2003: December 2004

PC59/2004 – Revisions to the Enhanced Community Punishment Scheme 2


suitable for low risk offenders who do not require the enhanced level of supervision which the scheme offers. Areas will
be aware of the importance attached to ensuring that local communities influence what work is to be undertaken by
offenders performing Community Punishment. There are already excellent examples of probation areas working with
Crime and Disorder Reduction Panels and engaging with local communities. An increased investment in community
engagement should make it possible to identify more opportunities for low risk offenders to be supervised within the
voluntary and community sector with offender management being retained by probation staff who would be responsible
for the management and enforcement of the order. Placement quality remains critical and it will be important that work is
rigorous, demanding and meaningful to offenders as well as being of visible benefit to the local community

Non-Work Allowance:

With immediate effect, up to 20% of Community Punishment hours can be used for non-work activity. As well as the Post
Sentence Assessment Interview and Pre-Placement Work Session, this will include hours taken up by Guided Skills
Learning and related activities. Further guidance will be issued in the New Year on the allowance to be made available
under the new national standards for the community order...

Implications of the new sentencing framework:

The term ‘Community Punishment’ does not feature within the new sentencing framework and is replaced by the term
‘Unpaid Work’. This will be delivered through a Community Order with one or more requirements. The exact form of the
Community Order will be based in the sentencers’ assessment of seriousness and, in most cases, informed by the
Probation Service’s view on the likelihood of reconviction and the risk of harm. In theory, an enormous number of
combinations of requirements would be available to sentencers. In practice, it seems likely that Unpaid Work will feature
in three main forms:
• Unpaid Work as the sole requirement of a Community Order. This will be between 40 and 300 hours in length
and commensurate with the court’s assessment of seriousness. Guided Skills Learning will not be available to
offenders with a single requirement but a percentage of the hours ordered will remain available for non-work
activity related to the achievement of the purposes of the order, which may include further assessment of
employment and Basic Skills needs and signposting to local provision
• Unpaid Work with education, training and employment requirement. Guided Skills Learning will be delivered
alongside Unpaid Work but through a separate activity requirement and will be appropriate where the offence
falls into the medium or high seriousness band and assessment indicates that poor employment skills contribute
to offending
• Unpaid work with supervision and other requirements such as programme attendance.

Training will be provided for probation staff from February 2005 and further guidance on Unpaid Work will follow in the
New Year.

Timetable:

February 2005: Further guidance will be issued on Unpaid Work and the related activity requirement.

21 March 2005: National Unpaid Work Conference will be held.

April 2005: New Community Order becomes available

May 2005: A new and simplified self-assessment framework will be issued, based on Performance Criteria for
Unpaid Work

PC59/2004 – Revisions to the Enhanced Community Punishment Scheme 3