Stoke & Staffordshire

Staffordshire probation officers 'supervising 80 offenders a time'

Prison officer seen through bars - generic image Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A report states Staffordshire's probation services need to improve

Probation officers are supervising up to 80 offenders at any one time - leaving the public at greater risk, a watchdog has warned.

HM chief inspector of probation, Dame Glenys Stacey, highlighted large caseloads in a report on Staffordshire.

The Reducing Reoffending Partnership, which owns the area's Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), said probation experts "work hard".

The Ministry of Justice said a "robust action plan" was in place.

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In 2014 probation services in England and Wales were divided into a new National Probation Service (NPS) and 21 privately-owned rehabilitation companies.

High-risk individuals are managed by the NPS while CRCs are responsible for other offenders.

CRC's work 'wanting'

Dame Glenys said the area's NPS and the Staffordshire and West Midlands CRC needed to improve the quality of their work.

The report said the CRC's programmes, including Drink Impaired Drivers Programme and one to address domestic abuse, "are staffed by a well-resourced and experienced team".

The CRC also commissioned specific services for women service users, the report stated.

But Dame Glenys said too much of the CRC's "bread and butter work to protect the public was wanting".

The report said assessments of the risk of harm were done "to an acceptable standard", but they "were not followed through sufficiently well".

It also said some officers were responsible for up to 80 cases.

Dame Glenys said the work of the NPS in the region was of "sufficient quality", but there were "notable weaknesses" in places.

Reducing Reoffending Partnership chief executive, Catherine Holland, said: "Our team of probation experts work hard to keep the people of Staffordshire and Stoke safe by reducing reoffending.

She added it would use the report's findings to "further strengthen our work".

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said providers were "rigorously" held to account for their performance, adding a "robust action plan" for the area was in place to address the inspectorate's concerns.

The plan includes developing a new tool to assess offenders' risk.

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