Durham Tees Valley probation staff 'must do more on welfare risks'

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image captionThe service must improve its assessment of the potential impact of reoffending, inspectors found

Probation staff in north-east England must do more to address the risks around domestic violence and child welfare when offenders are released from jail, a watchdog has warned.

Durham Tees Valley Community Rehabilitation Company only had plans for about half its cases, HM Inspectorate of Probation said.

Offending behaviour and risk factors "were not sufficiently analysed".

The organisation said staff were working "tirelessly".

The report concluded the service's case supervision work "requires improvement" having previously been rated "inadequate" in 2018.

In the cases looked at last November and December, "less than half" had appropriate planning in place to address domestic abuse issues while "just over half" had adequate measures around child safeguarding.

Risk management to deal with the potential dangers posed by people leaving prison "was not consistently in place," inspectors said, with a focus on current offences and a failure to address previous behaviours.

"Appropriate actions, including routine contact with police domestic violence units and/or children's services, were not taking place in enough cases," the report found.

'Further work needed'

However, the Stockton-based company's overall performance was rated "good" - up from the previous classification of "requires improvement".

Three areas were rated "outstanding", including leadership and services for people being released from jail.

More than 90% of cases met standards for resettlement planning with specialist agencies enlisted to provide services such as mentoring and family support.

It was also praised for working with the Middlesbrough-based Heroin-Assisted Treatment programme, which sees drug users given daily doses of diamorphine under supervision.

Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell, said "probation staff have improved the way they identify and manage potential risks of harm".

"However, further work needs to be done to protect potential and actual victims in domestic abuse and child safeguarding cases," he added.

A not-for-profit consortium, the company supervises more than 3,600 low and medium-risk offenders.

In a statement, the CRC said it was pleased inspectors "recognise the huge amount of work that has gone into improving our service in the last year".

"Our staff have worked tirelessly to make our communities safer. We are confident a further inspection would highlight continued improvements in our casework."

It added it acknowledged the issues around domestic abuse and child safeguarding and said staff were undertaking "comprehensive training".

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