Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust must assess harm risk

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The Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust must assess the risk of harm adult offenders pose more thoroughly, inspectors have warned.

Their report said it should consider how it could improve processes to protect children and young people.

However, work to assist sentencing was found to be of a high standard.

The trust's chief executive said that as it was due to be abolished, the recommendations would have to be taken forward by the replacement bodies.

Inspectors said they were concerned to find that:

· Risk of harm screenings were sometimes not sufficiently thorough

· More needed to be done to ensure that, where there were potential child protection and safeguarding issues, inquiries were made to children's social care services

· It was not always clear when a case would be reviewed, nor was it always apparent what changes in circumstances would prompt reviews

'New arrangements'

Inspectors said they were pleased to find that:

· Early contact was made at the start of supervision in almost every case and sentence plans were generally timely

· Interventions were generally delivered according to the requirements of the community sentence and licence conditions, and in line with sentence plan objectives

Under the Ministry of Justice's plans, parts of the probation service are due to be outsourced to private firms and voluntary groups.

Russell Bruce, chief executive of the trust, said: "The inspectors point to the need to improve assessments on risks of harm, taking into full account relevant factors, and to more thoroughly review sentence plans to ensure they remain appropriate.

"The new arrangements, which come formally into operation on 1 June, mean, of course, that the recommendations will have to be taken forward by the National Probation Service and the Community Rehabilitation Company."

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