Probation Circular

OFFENDER ENGAGEMENT: EFFECTIVE CONSULTATION AND INVOLVEMENT OF OFFENDERS IN DEVELOPING SERVICES
PURPOSE
To identify and promote best practice in the engagement of offenders in the delivery and development of services provided by local probation areas.

REFERENCE NO: 10/2006 ISSUE DATE: 30 March IMPLEMENTATION DATE: 13 April 2006 EXPIRY DATE: 13 April 2011 TO: Chairs of Probation Boards Chief Officers of Probation Secretaries of Probation Boards CC: Regional Managers Board Treasurers AUTHORISED BY: Sarah Mann Head of Interventions Unit ATTACHED: Annex A – Proforma for completion Annex B – Project Board terms of reference

ACTION
Chief Officers are asked to: • Complete the attached proforma with details of current engagement activity, and return it to Seb Falk (details below) by Monday 24 April. • Note the establishment of an Offender Engagement Project Board to oversee and promote work to engage offenders • Consider nominating a senior manager to join the Board

SUMMARY
Initial enquiries suggest that areas vary widely in the ways they inform, consult and involve offenders in the development of services. This circular aims to survey current practice and to establish a Project Board. The project Board will issue best practice guidance to areas and recommend a mechanism by which NPD can access offenders’ views through local and regional structures. (Draft Terms of reference for the Project Board are attached at Annex B.) It is envisioned that this work will link to planned work by NOMS Research, Development and Statistics to develop a structured process for feedback from offenders, as well as to the NPS Quality Standards Portfolio planned for April 2006.

RELEVANT PREVIOUS PROBATION CIRCULARS
N/A

CONTACT FOR ENQUIRIES
sebastian.falk@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk or 020 7217 8448

National Probation Directorate
Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London, SW1P 2AW

BACKGROUND 1. Involving offenders and ex-offenders in shaping the services which affect them is likely to lead to greater responsiveness to offenders’ needs and learning styles. This is an important factor in improving retention and completion rates. It is key to policy development in NOMS and may be included in standards relating to the commissioning of services. 2. For this reason, NPD is surveying the extent of current arrangements for engagement with offenders, in order to identify best practice and share it. NPD is also reviewing its own practice and is seeking to find ways of obtaining offender views in the planning and development of business at national and regional levels. 3. This project is allied to the broader NOMS and YJB Approach to Communities and Civil Renewal, launched in November 2005. This aims to promote the role of communities in offender management, through regional reducing re-offending action plans and local plans. It also addresses the role of offenders as “responsible citizens”, supporting others in prison and the community and contributing to consultations or advisory bodies. PROJECT RATIONALE 4. Engagement of offenders has five aims: • To improve the quality and outcomes of services working with offenders, as effective consultation shapes the evolution of delivery. • To improve rates of retention of offenders in programmes and court requirements: those who participate in the reference group(s) or forum(s) may gain satisfaction from doing so, while others will benefit from better services. • Offenders who participate in formal groups will gain skills and confidence from participating in a constructive process • To motivate some offenders to participate further with the work of the Probation Service, perhaps as mentors to future service users. • To enable the Probation Service to demonstrate its responsiveness to customer feedback as it prepares for the approaching challenges of commissioning and contestability. OFFENDER ENGAGEMENT PROJECT BOARD 5. A Project Board, with representatives of NPD, regions and areas will be set up to progress this work (see Terms of Reference, Annex B). At this stage we are asking for nominations of suitable senior or middle managers to represent areas’ perspectives on the Board. 6. As stated in the Terms of Reference, membership of the Board would require a small time commitment, with meetings approximately every two months (perhaps more frequently at first). Members of the Board will be selected according to their experience and interest in this area, as well as to ensure a good geographical spread. Areas wishing to nominate representatives should do when they complete the attached proforma (Annex A). QUESTIONNAIRE 7. To begin the work of improving engagement with offenders, we are surveying current practice in this area. For this reason all areas are asked to complete the attached proforma (Annex A) electronically, and return it to Seb Falk (sebastian.falk@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk) by Monday 24 April. Please give full details of all work to inform, consult and involve1 offenders in developing services (the document will expand to allow full completion).
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Inform: Providing offenders with information in relation to the CJS, NOMS and their own individual cases, as part of offender assessment and management arrangements. Consult: Offenders being consulted on the plans of probation and partners regarding current and developing policy and practice, as well as planning their sentence. Involve: Offenders being involved in providing practical and motivational support to other offenders (e.g. mentoring).

PC10/2006 – Offender Engagement: Effective Consultation and Involvement of Offenders in Developing Services

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Annex A

OFFENDER ENGAGEMENT QUESTIONNAIRE
Please complete electronically and return to sebastian.falk@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk by 24 April 2006
Probation Area: Name and contact details of respondent:

Please provide full details with examples, using as much space as you need 1. To what extent would you say that you inform, consult and involve offenders in service delivery and development? (Please see definitions footnoted in PC10/2006.) Do you… Inform? Consult? Involve? Do you think this is… (please highlight) Not enough About right Too much Not enough About right Too much Not enough About right Too much

Never Never Never

A little A little A little

A lot A lot A lot

2. How do you ensure that you provide offenders with sufficient information about the nature, requirements and purpose of their sentence? 3. Do you often seek offenders’ views on the service you provide? 4. If yes, is this done on a formal or ad-hoc basis? 5. If you consult formally, how regularly do you do this, and in what way (e.g. face-to-face, written questionnaire)? 6. If it is informal, please give details of how you select suitable occasions, and in what way the consultation takes place. 7. Do you use offender forums to discuss standards and possible improvements? If so, how do these work? 8. In what circumstances do you obtain offender feedback? Is this general, or on specific aspects of the service? (e.g. unpaid work, offending behaviour programmes.) 9. In what way/format do you obtain offender feedback? 10. Do you give feedback to offenders on the quality of their input or what has been done with their suggestions? If so, how is it given? 11. Does your area participate in regional forums or consultation exercises? If yes, please give details. 12. Please give examples of particular methods or instances of good practice which you think should be adopted by other areas. 13. Would you be interested in nominating a senior or middle manager to the Offender Engagement Project Board? If so, please give his/her name and contact details.

Annex B

Offender Engagement Project Board Draft Terms of Reference
1. Purpose The purpose of this Project Board is to identify, consolidate and promote good practice in the engagement of offenders. Information will be collected about the ways in which Probation areas currently inform, consult and involve offenders in the delivery and development of services. The Board will review approaches taken in different areas and promote good practice by issuing updated guidance. It will also propose ways in which NPD can, with the cooperation of areas and regions, work with offenders to deliver its priorities. New guidance on “best practice” in the engagement of offenders may address work which either improves services by drawing on the experiences of offenders; or achieves greater motivation and better completions by offenders in current interventions; or contributes to offenders’ rehabilitation by promoting concepts of active citizenship. The Board will also look to find ways for NPD to access offenders’ views in the planning and delivery of its work. 2. Membership The Board will comprise: • NPD – representatives of: Head of Intensive Interventions Head of Communications Head of Business Development Project Manager for Offender Engagement (Seb Falk) NOMS Community Integration Unit representative One regional manager One or two senior managers from probation areas

• • •

The Head of Intensive Interventions will chair the Board and the Project Manager for Offender Engagement will be responsible for providing regular updates to the Board on work undertaken. 3. Frequency of meetings Meetings will take place every two months, though they may be more frequent at first. The first meeting will be in May 2006. Papers will be issued a week before each meeting, and correspondence will be by email.