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Probation

Circular
ROLE BOUNDARY ISSUES IN THE REFERENCE NO:
NPS 90/2005

PURPOSE ISSUE DATE:


To provide advice on the management of role boundary issues within the NPS. 15 December 2005

ACTION IMPLEMENTATION DATE:


The NPD expects Chief Officers to discuss the contents of this PC with their Immediate
Trade Unions and use it to inform future consultation/negotiations.
EXPIRY DATE:
SUMMARY N/A
There is now considerable variation in the roles, pay and training of staff within
the NPS. The NPD and the Trade Unions are concerned that a more consistent TO:
approach is pursued in the context of the wider changes taking place in the Chairs of Probation Boards
NPS and the forthcoming job evaluation exercises.
Chief Officers of Probation
Secretaries of Probation Boards
The main areas of difficulty reported to the NPD relate to court work,
involvement in the delivery of accredited programmes by PSOs, the
assessment of risk of harm and offender management. CC:
Regional Managers
The NPD acknowledges that this is a complex issue which can only be Board Treasurers
resolved through local discussion and negotiation. This PC provides advice to
areas on the key issues. The NPD will provide support to local Chief Officers in AUTHORISED BY:
the management of this issue. There is a genuine commitment by the NPD and Roger McGarva, Head of Regions
the Trade Unions to resolve these issues without unnecessary conflict. & Performance

The NPD will review this PC with the Trade Unions, following consultation with ATTACHED:
Chief Officers, in May 2006. It must be emphasised that this PC has not been N/A
subject to formal negotiation with the Trade Unions and as such is an NPD
document.

RELEVANT PREVIOUS PROBATION CIRCULARS


PC65/05 National Standards (2005) and National Offender
Management Model: Application of Tiering Framework

CONTACT FOR ENQUIRIES


Roger.McGarva2@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
Helen.West6@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

National Probation Directorate


Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London, SW1P 2AW
Key Principles

The NPD and the Trade Unions agree that staff should only be expected to undertake work for which they
are trained and appropriately rewarded within the overall pay strategy of the NPS. During the next six
months considerable work will be undertaken in relation to job evaluation. This will identify the appropriate
level of reward for work undertaken. It is essential that this is seen as a constructive exercise that values
all staff whether they be Probation Officers, Probation Service Officers or Administrative staff.

Probation Officers are only employed if they have an officially recognised qualification. The qualification
and training enables them to manage any offenders irrespective of the level of “risk of harm” they present.
OASys is designed to assess offender need and includes a risk of harm assessment. It is established
practice that the OASys Risk of Harm Screening can be used by Probation Service Officers to “sift out”
those offenders with a low risk of harm. This will remain practice. Probation Officers will undertake a full
risk of harm assessment on all offenders where the Risk of Harm Screening indicates that this is needed.

The NPD is committed to supporting areas in ensuring that there are appropriate training opportunities for
staff to acquire the skills required by their role. The NPD will be considering this in the current review of
the work of the regional training consortia.

Application

1. Court based work

The use of Probation Service Officers in court has increased considerably in recent years. They
undertake work of great value and represent the NPS in an important area of business. It is essential that
areas provide them with training, within the NVQ framework, to enable them to function in Court,
intervene in an appropriate way in court business and prosecute breach cases as required.

A major area of activity for Probation Service Officers is the provision of advice to courts on sentencing.
Whilst full Standard Delivery Reports (SDRs) should only be written by Probation Officers, there is
considerable scope for Probation Service Officers to provide oral advice to sentencers for low risk
offenders and to enable them to contribute to/or prepare fast delivery reports (FDRs). However, if the
OASys Risk of Harm Screening identifies concerns the case should be adjourned for a SDR.

There will be occasions in courts when adjournments for SDRs can be avoided by the provision of FDRs
e.g. offenders currently under supervision where sufficient information is available and a FDR will meet
the needs of the court. This can save court time, speed up the court business and save probation service
resources especially when the offender manager for the case can be consulted. In exceptional
circumstances where a report on a case already under supervision and assessed as medium risk of harm
or higher is required by the court “on the day” an FDR may be prepared by a Probation Officer. It must not
be prepared by a Probation Service Officer.

The NPD is developing a new screening tool that can be used in cases where risk of harm is low to
distinguish those reports that can be dealt with through FDRs and those that require SDRs. This will
replace the current reliance on OGRS and the aim is to pilot it as soon as the development work has
been completed. In the meantime the NPD intends to amend National Standards (sections SS 2.5 to SS
2.13) to provide greater flexibility to provide FDRs where the risk of harm assessment does not indicate
that a full SDR is necessary. The NPD estimates that approximately 40% of all reports can probably be
provided as FDRs. To meet concerns expressed by ministers about the importance of reducing delay in
the court process, the NPD had introduced new targets on PSR timeliness (see appendix).

2. Accredited programmes

The use of Probation Service Officers in the delivery of accredited programmes should reflect the nature
of the programme and the level of risk presented by the offenders. Most accredited programmes are
delivered by PSOs. Community based programmes involving sex offenders should be delivered by staff
trained in assessing risk of harm so that any changes in presenting behaviour can be identified. It is
appropriate for such programmes to be delivered by a combination of Probation Officer and Probation
Service Officer/other staff provided that they have been appropriately trained.

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3. Offender management

The use of Probation Service Officers as offender managers should be subject to the same principles.
OASys should be used to assess the offender at regular stages throughout the supervision. If a full risk of
harm assessment is indicated at any point it should be referred to a Probation Officer for completion. The
NPD is aware that some offenders can and do become more dangerous during supervision and this can
and does occur between reviews. For this reason, it is essential that Probation Service Officers have their
work overseen by managerial staff fully qualified in assessing risk of harm at all levels.

The NPD is currently reviewing PC 65/05 on tiering and the intention is to issue further guidance In the
near future.

4. Other

There are a range of offenders supervised by the NPS where Probation Service Officers should not be
the responsible officer i.e. high risk of harm offenders, sex offenders, domestic violence perpetrators, life
sentence prisoners/life sentence licences, racially motivated offenders and cases involving child
protection issues. Offenders with a history of violence towards staff should not be allocated to a Probation
Service Officer.

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