England

Inspectors' concern over Warwickshire and West Mercia probation

Generic image of child on swing Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A man on probation was found to have contact with his child despite an order preventing it

An inspection of probation services in Warwickshire and West Mercia has raised concerns over children's safety, with one man having contact with his son in breach of a child protection plan.

Inspectors also found officers had failed to advise social services when a woman they were supervising abused drugs while in contact with her son.

They said staff needed to do more to protect the public.

The body delivering the services has been contacted for comment.

Warwickshire and West Mercia Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) supervises nearly 3,000 low and medium-risk offenders across four counties: Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire. It is owned by PeoplePlus, a private company.

HM Inspectorate of Probation conducted a two-week inspection of the CRC earlier this year and in publishing its findings on Tuesday, issued an overall rating of "requires improvement".

Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said the CRC needed to boost "its approach to keeping people safe".

He said: "Probation staff are not focussing sufficiently on protecting victims and potential victims, and some aspects of their work to safeguard children leaves me with concern."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The report found long waits for offenders to start rehabilitation programmes

Overall, inspectors said the probation service was "good in parts", citing that two-thirds of inspected cases had been managed by qualified personnel - "well above the average for other CRCs", inspectors found.

Case assessment was also deemed a strength, but inspectors concluded work needed to be done to deliver quality services across the whole operation.

In safeguarding children, for example, inspectors found officers did not always make referrals to children's social care when they received information a child could be at risk.

Their report also suggests more effort is needed to support rehabilitation and lessen the risk of re-offending.

Inspectors uncovered long waits to start programmes imposed by courts on offenders as sentence requirements.

Mr Russell said it was "not uncommon" for people to wait six months to a year to start the courses, with only a third of those who participate completing them successfully.

Inspectors also found too little work was being done to improve family life and relationships, with drug rehabilitation and testing requirements not being implemented consistently.

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