Probation Circular

To provide advice on the management of role boundary issues within the NPS. REFERENCE NO: 90/2005 ISSUE DATE: 15 December 2005 IMPLEMENTATION DATE: Immediate EXPIRY DATE: N/A TO: Chairs of Probation Boards Chief Officers of Probation Secretaries of Probation Boards CC: Regional Managers Board Treasurers AUTHORISED BY: Roger McGarva, Head of Regions & Performance ATTACHED: N/A

The NPD expects Chief Officers to discuss the contents of this PC with their Trade Unions and use it to inform future consultation/negotiations.

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 approach is pursued in the context of the wider changes taking place in the NPS and the forthcoming job evaluation exercises. 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. The NPD acknowledges that this is a complex issue which can only be 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 the management of this issue. There is a genuine commitment by the NPD and the Trade Unions to resolve these issues without unnecessary conflict. The NPD will review this PC with the Trade Unions, following consultation with Chief Officers, in May 2006. It must be emphasised that this PC has not been subject to formal negotiation with the Trade Unions and as such is an NPD document.

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


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.

PC90/2005 – Role Boundary Issues in the NPS


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.

PC90/2005 – Role Boundary Issues in the NPS