North East probation service 'hampered by staff shortage'

HMP Hull Image copyright Geograph/Paul Harrop
Image caption Staff in the probation service for the area from Scotland to Lincolnshire and West Yorkshire were inspected

Staff shortages and high workloads mean probation staff cannot always deliver the service they aim for, a report has found.

The Probation Inspectorate's routine inspection of its North East division identified "significant shortages" of qualified probation officers.

But many staff were also said to do "excellent work" with ex-offenders.

The division covers from the Scottish Borders in the north to Boston in the south, and Todmorden in the west.

The report said a shortage of qualified probation officers is a problem across the whole of England and Wales.

Justin Russell, Chief Inspector of Probation, said: "Despite staff shortages and some heavy workloads, staff across the North East Division take the time to develop professional relationships with the individuals under their supervision.

"If individuals missed appointments or broke the rules of their orders, staff did excellent work to engage individuals again and get them back on track."

In the report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation, the division was rated "good", the second highest grading it can achieve.

But the report said staff need to be more "robust" with risk assessments.

In a third of cases examined, inspectors found staff did not give enough detail about who might be at risk from an ex-offender or how they could be at risk.

Hull accommodation success

The report highlighted an accommodation project in Hull and the East Riding as "good practice".

Ex-offenders on the programme were given "decent" accommodation to help steer them from crime and homelessness.

The division was also praised for a "pioneering" collaboration with Durham and Darlington councils, and inspectors noted community networks in Cleveland steering women from crime and reoffending.

Work with victims of serious crime was also found to be good, and people are updated on the perpetrator's sentence and given opportunities to air their views on release.