Probation Circular

This circular describes the national strategy in relation to Visible Unpaid Work and Community Engagement. It reports on the visibility pilots which ran in July 2005 and sets a timetable for the national rollout of the Visibility Campaign. It provides a template for areas to prepare a Visibility and Community Engagement strategy and a format for reporting to NPD on throughput issues.

REFERENCE NO: 66/2005 ISSUE DATE: 19 August 2005 IMPLEMENTATION DATE: Immediate EXPIRY DATE: August 2010 TO: Chairs of Probation Boards Chief Officers of Probation Secretaries of Probation Boards CC: Board Treasurers Regional Managers Regional What Works Managers AUTHORISED BY: Meg Blumsom, Acting Head of Community Reintegration ATTACHED: Annex 1: Visible Unpaid Work Annex 2: Lessons Learned from the Pilot Areas Annex 3: Throughput of orders Annex 4: Civil renewal, Community Engagement and Unpaid Work: Developing a Strategy

Chief Officers are asked to: • Forward this PC to Unpaid Work Lead Managers • Ensure that plans are put in place to implement Visible Unpaid Work in accordance with the timescale given in Annex 1 • Send a representative of the area to the national meeting on Visible Unpaid Work on Friday 23 September • Identify a senior manager with responsibility for monitoring the throughput of Unpaid Work Requirements and to report to NPD every three months

Six areas – Hampshire, Durham, Kent, Merseyside, London and Suffolk – piloted the visibility campaign in July 2005. They prepared strategies on Visible Unpaid Work and Community Engagement, arranged high profile launches with media coverage and put arrangements into place whereby members of the public could contact probation areas, using websites, e-mail as well as telephone and post. The lessons learned from the pilot areas will underpin the national rollout of Visible Unpaid Work by November 2005. Between September and November 2005, all areas, with the exception of the six pilots will be expected to put in place a Visibility and Community Engagement strategy, mechanisms whereby voluntary and charitable organisations and members of the public can propose projects which will benefit the local community and plan a launch during the week beginning 21 November.


CONTACT FOR ENQUIRIES Tel: 020 7217 8877

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

Visible Unpaid Work Annex 1 Introduction: 1. This paper will outline three priority strands of national strategy in relation to unpaid work and the actions which will be required in areas in order to deliver these at a local level. The three strands are: • Visible Unpaid Work • Civil Renewal and Community Engagement • Community Safety

What is Visible Unpaid Work?: 2. Visible Unpaid Work is an overall approach to delivery and is underpinned by the principle that the work undertaken by offenders should, where appropriate, be marked in such a way that it can be recognised by the local community. The campaign for Visible Unpaid Work is taking place alongside, and has strong links with the Home Office three year Community Sentences Communication Campaign which was commissioned to raise the profile of community sentences and promote public confidence that offenders receive demanding punishments which reflect the seriousness of the crime. Clean Up week took place in March 2005, and gave the public in ten towns and cities across the country the opportunity to vote from a shortlist of Unpaid Work projects for the one which they thought should be given priority. This introduced a model of community consultation and direct contact with the public which is a significant part of the Visibility Campaign. A further important link is the NOMS draft Communities and Civil Renewal strategy which highlights the importance of compulsory unpaid work both as a major resource for communities and as a way of demonstrating to the public that justice is being done in a visible and rigorous way. Whilst the legal process of enforcement of orders cannot be made visible to the public, it can be demonstrated that workers are performing demanding tasks and are well supervised and disciplined The purpose of NPD’s campaign for Visible Unpaid Work is to enhance the public’s understanding and appreciation of the contribution made by Unpaid Work to the well-being and safety of local communities. Integral to this approach is the need to put into place provision whereby voluntary and community organisations and individual members of the public have easy access to information about Unpaid Work and routes to suggesting projects in their local probation areas. The methods of enhancing visibility will depend on an assessment of the nature of the project and the tactics best suited to publicise it. Three principles underpin Visible Unpaid Work: i. There is no intention that the emphasis on visibility should require offenders to wear a uniform, the intention of which is to humiliate or stigmatise. The emphasis will be on badging the work, not the offender.





ii. The safety of staff and of offenders is paramount. There will occasionally be situations in which it could be damaging, or even dangerous, for an offender to be identified in public. Areas will have the discretion to assess any risk and to place the offender in circumstances where they are unlikely to be identified. iii. Unpaid Work is performed in local communities and should be responsive to local concerns. Nationally provided materials will therefore be designed in such a way that areas can supplement them with wording or images which they consider will be effective and relevant in their local context. Similarly, whilst methods of community engagement will be suggested, there will be no single preferred model and areas should take into account their particular circumstances, networks and existing partnerships in planning for this. Whether the area is predominantly urban or rural, for example, will affect the challenge and the range of possible solutions.


The Visibility Pilots: 7. In June 2005 six areas, Merseyside; Durham; Suffolk; Hampshire; London and Kent agreed to pilot the Visibility Campaign. Each area organised a high profile launch of their Visibility and Community Engagement strategy which took place at an unpaid work project. Alongside this, work went on to put mechanisms in place whereby the public could be better informed about the achievements of unpaid work in their locality and given clear information about how they could suggest a piece of work to be undertaken The lessons learned from this experience are outlined in Annexe 2. Areas will be familiar with the reparation marque designed to support the implementation of Enhanced Community Punishment. The wording was changed in the course of the pilots from ‘Making Amends’ to ‘Community Payback’ which, it is felt, more accurately reflects the purpose of unpaid work, uses simpler language and emphasises the importance of the community. This wording will be used in all new materials issued but this change can take place over time. Areas need not replace existing ‘Making Amends’ plaques and may continue to use up any stocks they currently have. NPD provided materials for the launches, including high visibility jackets and promotional materials as it will for the rollouts in the other 36 areas. It is intended that the high visibility jackets should be worn when the nature of the work requires it, not for the purpose of drawing attention to the offender. It is important that supervisors can be recognised as such by the public both to deal with any queries and to promote confidence that offenders are engaged in rigorous and disciplined activity. What will areas be required to do? 10. Visible Unpaid Work will be launched in an initial implementation stage after which areas will need to ensure that it is embedded in routine activity. 11. The timetable for the national launch of unpaid work is set out below. 12. Areas will be expected to : • • • • Friday 23 September Send a representative to a national meeting on planning for rollout. Prepare a Visibility and Community Engagement strategy and Action Plan or revise an existing one. Annex 4 provides a template for this. Week beginning November 21 Arrange a launch event at an unpaid work site, ideally one at which vocational skills learning is offered, with an invited audience and media coverage. Further guidance on the organisation of the launch will be issued shortly. Put into place means whereby all sections of the community can find information about unpaid work and suggest projects to be undertaken. This should include access via area websites.



13. From November 2005 Areas will be expected to ensure that all delivery of compulsory unpaid work takes into account the need to promote visibility. Different approaches will be required for different types of projects and it will be necessary to assess each piece of work in order to decide which methods, if any, are most appropriate to publicise it. The following categories give a guide to the types of issues which will need to be considered. i. Large Scale Project: These will be major pieces of work carried out over time, often in partnership with the local authority or other organisations, for example, the installation of crime prevention measures in a high crime area, or the creation of leisure spaces. Every opportunity should be sought to advertise the work whilst it is underway. Through use of the ‘Community Payback’ logo. PR opportunities and local media coverage should be actively sought. Where a project which improves the local environment has been completed, areas should consider leafleting the local community. Routine, Continuing Work: e.g litter clearance, graffiti removal. Whilst these are not ideal for offenders who would benefit from acquiring skills from unpaid work, they are popular and likely to remain part of the work which offenders deliver. This is work which can very easily be



undone by further vandalism with the risk of making unpaid work appear ineffective. Plaques will not usually be appropriate unless it has been a major undertaking so it is important that where they are used, they are dated. Other examples of routine continuing work are individual placements in charity shops, homes for the elderly etc. Ways of giving these an element of visibility, such as certificates or window stickers are currently being examined. iii. Small scale placements: These will include work for individuals e.g. decorating for older people where it is only appropriate for this to be visible to the beneficiary and their family and friends. 14. There are also some placements, most usually work undertaken for organisations working with vulnerable people, where the use of plaques etc would be inappropriate. In such placements it is still possible to consider alternative means of visibility e.g. a poster displayed in the premises of an organisation which refers individuals who would benefit from unpaid work. 15. It is recognised that unpaid work which cannot easily be made visible is just as valuable as that which can and there is certainly no intention that this type of work should be given lower priority. Visible Unpaid Work is about matching methods of promoting visibility to the particular circumstances of each project. Civil Renewal and Community Engagement: What are Civil Renewal and Community Engagement? 16. The government is committed to developing safer, stronger communities through empowering local people to engage with statutory agencies and ensure that the services delivered match local needs. Within the context of Unpaid Work, local people should contribute to decisions about how offenders should pay communities back for the harm they have caused. A survey undertaken in July 2005 showed that 68% of respondents would be very or likely to participate in voting for unpaid work projects. What will areas be required to do?: 17. Areas should prepare a Visibility and Community Engagement strategy. They should build on existing good practice and local networks and consider how these can best be developed and supplemented to ensure that all sections of the community, including black and minority ethnic groups and faith communities, are able to contribute to this debate. There will be flexibility built into this approach and no single national model for community engagement. There is scope for areas to shape ways of listening to the public voice, where possible building on existing systems rather than setting up new structures for this purpose. 18. Where they are not in place, areas should consider forming links with: • • • • • • • • • • Local Criminal Justice Boards Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships Local Authorities, including Area Committees and individual councillors Youth Offending Teams and Youth Engagement Teams Parish Councils MPs Neighbourhood Policing Teams Community Safety Partnerships A broad range of voluntary and community organisations, representing local people National charities and voluntary organisations to consider possibilities of delivering their objectives locally

It is important that these links should exist at both a strategic and an operational level and that senior manager’s resource community consultation appropriately. Chief Officers will sit on the LCJB but this is unlikely to contribute to direct service delivery unless there is also appropriate representation on CDRPs and effective links with operational managers and staff.


19. Areas should also be open to requests from individual members of the public. It is inevitable that some suggestions put forward by individuals will be inappropriate. Projects must be: • Appropriate to the skill level of those performing the work. There can be no consistent definition of this since an area might be aware of specialist skills held by particular offenders which would make a piece of work achievable, where it would normally not have been. However, the public should not be given unreasonable expectations. Compliant with health and safety requirements. Able to offer the offender humane work which they can perform with dignity and not be potentially humiliating or degrading to offenders or damaging to some parts of the community. The type of work which would not normally be undertaken by paid labour. Whilst decisions about displacement of labour are not as clear cut as they were when Community Service was introduced, this remains an underlying principle. It could only be damaging to the public perception of compulsory unpaid work if it was seen as depriving law abiding citizens of employment opportunities. Case by case decisions will be required, taking into account the local context.

• • •

All publicity material which encourages members of the public to propose unpaid work projects should be clear about the criteria which they must meet. 20. It is important that contact details should be readily accessible to the public and should provide a suitable route through to Unpaid Work Units, with bureaucracy kept to a minimum. Areas should work towards developing websites which give information about Unpaid Work and the type of projects undertaken and provide an e-mail link which can be used for requests. There will need to be alternative forms of contact offered. It is not anticipated that areas run telephone helpdesks which could be a considerable drain on resources but systems should be in place whereby calls are acknowledged and responded to within a defined period of time. 21. It is crucial that an area’s community engagement strategy should have in place provision to make links with all sections of community. Where possible, publicity material should be available in prevalent local languages although it is recognised that in some diverse communities, it will not be possible for all languages to be covered. Areas should make realistic decisions in the light of local circumstances. Material should be distributed widely, both to places used by identifiable groups e.g. centres which cater for a particular ethnic or faith group and to places used by all sections of the community e.g. doctors’ surgeries, public libraries. 22. The process of community engagement does not end with identifying work. It is an approach which must be sustained throughout the life of a project, with local people being given the opportunity to offer feedback. Once again, there can be no fixed model for doing this but techniques such as attendance at community meetings or surveys of beneficiaries of the project should be considered. 23. Whilst it will be challenging to put comprehensive community consultation into place it does offer staff the opportunity to develop their skills and experience. There is a strong foundation for this since this staff group has benefited from ECP training. Recent practice has been rooted in ProSocial Modelling which provides a sound basis for the skilled communication which community consultation will require. Community Engagement will strengthen unpaid work provision by giving it a further indicator of quality. If the provision of compulsory unpaid work were to be opened up to bids from other potential providers, this is an area of expertise which could not be easily matched. Community Safety: What is Community Safety? 24. Community Safety is a means of preventing or reducing the social and environmental factors which have an impact on local people’s quality of life and contribute to the fear of crime. It encompasses a broad range of activities which deliver local solutions to local problems. In terms of national strategy, it includes a range of issues such as anti-social behaviour and drug use. Compulsory unpaid work is well placed to make a contribution through making local communities safer and providing facilities which local residents feel confident in using.


25. There will be unpaid work projects, especially those which involve work with vulnerable people, which make a contribution to community safety but cannot be made visible and do not involve community consultation. Such projects are and will remain a valuable part of the work performed by offenders. What will areas be required to do? 26. In many cases, areas will simply be building on existing good practice but in others it will be necessary for more robust and productive links to be formed with CDRPs and their constituent agencies. Links between Visibility, Community Engagement and Enhanced Community Punishment: 27. Areas will still be making use of those elements of the ECP scheme in work with offenders who present a medium or high likelihood of reconviction. The primary focus of ECP is on the opportunities offered by unpaid work for the rehabilitation of the offender. The primary focus of Visible Unpaid Work is on the value of unpaid work to society, both economically and in terms of promoting strong communities. There is no contradiction between these purposes. 28. The introduction of the ECP scheme did much to boost the quality of placements. All projects should meet the criteria identified in paragraph 18. The Placement Quality Standards in the ECP manual should continue to be used as a second assessment. Where offenders have an OGRS score of 41 or above, the process of matching should take place but is not required with those who present a lower likelihood of reconviction. When the manual is reissued as an Unpaid Work manual, the criteria included in this circular will be integrated with the Placement Quality Standards.


Annex 2 Lessons Learned form the Visibility Pilots: June/July 2005 1. A meeting was held on 28 July to consider the lessons learned from the experience of the pilot areas. Whilst all areas took the view that they had learned from the experience, all felt that the short timescale and lack of flexibility about when the launch should be run placed them under considerable pressure. The task of preparing a written strategy to underpin this activity had not always been given the priority areas would have wished because of the demands of arranging a high profile event. 2. This was an issue particular to the pilots and the other thirty six areas will have a longer lead in time. There was recognition, however, that if the Probation Service is going to be proactive in promoting community sentences it will be necessary to be in a position to respond quickly to opportunities such as this. 3. A number of clear themes emerged which can be summarised as follows: • • • • The importance of working closely with communications/public relations staff The implications of visible unpaid work for staff The need to strike a balance between delivering a unified national campaign and being responsive to local circumstances and opportunities The importance of ensuring that events such as the pilot launches are not one off activities but are sustainable and work towards meeting the objectives of the organisation.

4. Working with Communications/PR Staff: This approach requires input from staff who have the necessary skills to promote unpaid work in a professional way. At this point, unpaid work staff themselves do not have these skills but it is essential that they have access to them in order to mount successful campaigns. Visible Unpaid Work is a high profile, politically significant campaign which will require the investment of resources. If this investment is to be rewarded, professional PR input is crucial to assist with initial flagship events and also with ongoing marketing.


This places areas who are not large enough to sustain full time communications staff at a disadvantage. Suffolk had used some of the money provided for the launches to buy in PR consultancy. This worked very well for the event but is less feasible in the longer term. Action: NPD Communications team will take this issue to the Regional Managers meeting in order to promote the development of regional PR/communication strategies to ensure that smaller areas are able to access expertise. 5. Implications for unpaid work staff: One of the purposes of the campaign is to promote easy access by the public to information about unpaid work and the opportunity to suggest projects. The reality for many areas is that they already have ample work acquired through other means. However, work suggested directly by members of the public offers the added value of bringing about increased local recognition and appreciation of the contribution made by offenders to communities. It is critical that, having opened up these channels of communication, areas are equipped to respond to requests received. Clear messages must be given to staff about the importance of customer relations and local procedures put in place to ensure that e-mails and telephone calls receive a rapid response and information is given to the enquirer about what will happen next. This will be an assessment of the suitability of the project and staff will need to be equipped to explain what criteria will be used and why. Broadly, it will be important that every member of staff is equipped to be an ambassador for unpaid work. In terms of detail there are implications for recruitment processes, job descriptions and training. Work is already underway in the NPD communications team on planning media training for staff and board members in order to equip them to act as champions. However, this will, at this stage, only be for a few representatives from each area. The point was raised that it will be very difficult for staff to reach out to communities if they do not have desktop internet access and this issue will be raised at a national level. Action: NPD communications team to produce a national toolkit for areas to use in addressing the implications for job description, recruitment processes and the incorporation of visibility related objectives into appraisal. NPD community reintegration team to produce staff briefing materials to accompany the national rollout.


6. National/Local balance: There is value in visible unpaid work being introduced as a national campaign with a consistent brand and image that can be identified across England and Wales. This will give political credibility and facilitate communication with national organisations. However, unpaid work is delivered locally and one of the thrusts of this campaign is to increase the understanding of local communities. National branding therefore needs to be balanced by badging which reflects local circumstances and partnerships. Further work on the plaque and other materials is therefore required to make them easier to customise whilst retaining national consistency. Whilst NPD will provide good practice guidelines, drawn from the pilots, on organising launch events, areas will need to be alert to local opportunities. Kent probation area, for example, was able to use Kent County Show which fell on the weekend before the launch in order to encourage people to vote for work projects, the winner being announced at the launch. Action: NPD communications team to review the design of the plaque before reordering 7. Ensuring sustainability of Visible Unpaid Work: It is of critical importance that the national rollout of the visibility campaign should not be seen as a ‘big push’ which then gives way to normal business. It is an activity which will need to be embedded in the culture and day to day activity of each probation area. It is useful to see the launch not as an isolated event taking place for its own sake but rather as an opportunity to promote and develop new and existing partnerships and alliances in both the statutory and voluntary sector. It will be necessary for constant attention to be paid to the messages which are being given to the media. These will change over time. At present, the concept of visible unpaid work is a relatively novel one and has attracted press coverage but the same message will not always draw a media response. Areas will therefore have a continuing task in the marketing of unpaid work. If visible unpaid work is to be sustainable, it will be necessary to plan from the outset systems for areas to order plaques etc once the original supplies have run out. Unless this is a straightforward process, there is a risk that visibility activity will cease once supplies come to an end. Action: NPD communications team to consider the relative merits of national and local ordering systems.


NPD community reintegration team to issue guidance on what should be badged in order to help areas estimate their likely demand. 8. A number of other valuable ideas emerged which lie outside these categories. • • • An area logo which reflects local concerns and priorities is a useful marketing tool e.g. ‘ A Safer Cleaner Kent’ Hampshire found that the idea that unpaid work provides a quantifiable amount of free labour for the area each year captured the imagination of local radio stations. There is potential to engage local media not just for a one off piece of news coverage but for a series of features e.g a county wide newspaper might cover projects in different parts of the county on successive days. It would be useful to have a way of sharing materials which had been produced by one area but would be readily adaptable for use elsewhere. Action: NPD community reintegration and communications team to plan the development of a national library of materials.

Janet Corcoran Programme Manager for Unpaid Work 04/08/2005


Annex 3: Throughput of Orders 1. The Visibility Campaign will raise the public profile of unpaid work. One consequence of this is that any faults or inconsistencies in Service Delivery will become exposed. It would be extremely unfortunate if, having raised the level of public interest in unpaid work they found that, after all, it was not a sentence in which they could have confidence. It is therefore crucial that the delivery of unpaid work requirements meets National Standards. 2. Recent information suggests that, in comparison with a year ago, areas are more consistently commencing orders within the prescribed timescale and offering the required six hours a week. However, almost all areas report occasional crises in which supervisor sickness or other unforeseen difficulties lead to insufficient work being available for all the offenders scheduled to work that day. There is a general consensus that this has damaging effects on staff morale, offender compliance and public credibility and it is clear that most areas work very hard to keep this to a minimum. 3. Most areas already have a senior manager who is responsible for monitoring offenders who are sent home or stood down from a work project. In future this information should be shared with NPD on a regular basis so that an up to date national picture is available. 4. Areas should: Nominate a senior manager, where one is not already in place who will collect information on a monthly basis on the number of offenders and percentage of caseload who: i) ii) iii) iv) • Do not commence orders within the required timescale Are not offered the required six hours work each week Are instructed in advance that they should not report for work Are sent home, having reported for work, because insufficient work/supervisor coverage is available

Submit this information to every three months. The first return should be made in October 2005 and a template will be circulated for this purpose.

Annex 4: Civil Renewal, Community Engagement and Unpaid Work Developing a Strategy
What are they? ‘Civil Renewal is the development of strong, active, and empowered communities, in which people are able to do things for themselves, define the problems they face, and tackle them in partnership with public bodies’.

NOMS Civil Renewal Unit Website

‘Community Engagement is about involving local people in solving local problems, so they can work with their communities and public bodies such as local authorities to influence the way local services are designed and carried out. When it works well community engagement is the route to civil renewal.’ What is the difference between the two? ‘Civil Renewal is the political vision and Community Engagement is the practical way to achieve it’. What is the relationship with Unpaid Work? Civil renewal is part of a broad government agenda which extends beyond the Criminal Justice sector into fields such as housing and accommodation. Within the Probation Service, it is particularly relevant to Unpaid Work and there are two strands through which it can be put into practice. The first of these is visibility. Through carrying out the work ordered by the court, the offender can be seen to be visibly making amends to the community, within a rigorously enforced sentence, thereby promoting confidence in local people that justice is being done. This involves ensuring that the work which offenders carry out can be identified by the public and its contribution recognised.



The second is community engagement. Unpaid Work offers the opportunity for local citizens to have a say in determining what type of work offenders should carry out in order to make the best possible contribution to the community. This involves the Probation service working in collaboration with public bodies, local agencies, voluntary and community organisations and the public. In the ‘Clean Up Campaign’ which took place in March 2005, both these strands were put into practice. The public were asked to vote which, from a list of projects, should be given the highest priority and the resulting work was marked with a plaque bearing the ‘Making Amends’ logo. It is now proposed to extend this approach throughout England and Wales. This is not new work for many Probation Areas, some of whom have a commendable record of working closely with communities. What is new is for this to be co-ordinated at a national level so that the best practice in areas can be spread throughout NPS.


This template provides a structure for preparing local visibility and Community Engagement strategies, or updating those which are already in existence. The strategy and resultant Action Plan should answer the questions listed below. VISIBILITY How will you ensure that placement providers are made aware that usual practice is to erect a marque identifying a completed or long term continuing project?. The assumption will be that most completed projects will be badged. What will the exceptions to this be? e.g. work undertaken in people’s homes. What local wording will be inserted on the ‘Making Amends’ plaque?. What do you have in place to ensure that favourable media coverage is maximised?. What arrangements do you have to keep sentencers informed of details of projects undertaken?. What other arrangements do you have for publicising work done e.g. website? What arrangements will you make to badge other parts of the Unpaid Work operation e.g. equipment , protective clothing; offices?.


COMMUNITY How will you liaise with: ENGAGEMENT • Public bodies e.g. CDRPs; Local Authorities • Voluntary and community organisations • Members of the public? How will you inform the public how to request a placement? e.g. leaflets; presentations at community groups; website; media? How will you ensure that this information is accessible to the public? In particular, how will you ensure that you are meeting your statutory obligation to communicate material in such a way that it is accessible to people with disabilities and black and minority ethnic groups? How will you overcome barriers to community organisations identifying work e.g. pay their expenses to information sharing sessions; focus groups etc? How will you define the criteria of an acceptable placement e.g. matches the available skill level; meets health and safety requirements; is not the responsibility of LA or other body? How will you ensure that the relevant members of staff acquire the skills to engage effectively with other agencies; voluntary and community organisations and members of the public?


COMMUNICATION How will you communicate the key messages of this strategy to: • Sentencers • Probation staff • Placement providers? How will you launch this strategy in such a way that it is visible to the public e.g. Launch event; voting campaign; media coverage?