Martin Partington: Spotlight on the Justice System

Keeping the English Legal System under review

Archive for June 2021

Launch of the Unified Probation Service

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One experiment in use of the private sector to deliver important public services came to an end on 28 June 2021 with the Government’s announcement of its Unified Probation Service.

This undoes a reform introduced less than a decade ago by the then Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling, who decided that while a public sector probation service would be retained for looking after the most serious offenders, private and charitable organisations would be responsible for looking after other offenders.

The specific aims of the Grayling reforms were to reduce the amount of re-offending and promote rehabilitation of offenders. These aims were sensible. Most would argue in favour of them.

What was heavily criticised from the outset by many with an interest in the criminal justice system was that the policy would be delivered primarily by private organisations opearting under contracts with Government. In the event, the critics were proved right. Operation of the contracts did not work in practice. It neither cut costs nor reduced reoffending.

The Government announced some time ago that contracts with private providers would be ended early. The latest announcement marks the completion of the process. The new service will continue to engage with some third sector/charitable organisations. But the new service in effect re-creates the National Probation Service which existed before the Grayling changes were made.

Getting probation right is always a challenge for Government. Some who think that the principal role of the criminal justice system is to punish may regard probation as soft option. The reality, however, is that it is clearly in the public interest that serious efforts are made to turn around the lives of offenders so that they can play a full part in society. Probation officers are on the front line in the delivery of these objectives. It is right that they should be seen as delivering a key public service.

I commented on the original Grayling proposals in this blog on 13 August 2013.

Details of the Government’s latest announcement are at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/bigger-better-probation-service-to-cut-crime

Written by lwtmp

June 28, 2021 at 10:44 am

Tribunals Journal – latest edition

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The latest edition of the Tribunals Journal has just been published. It contains a varied collection of articles – all concise, informative and easy to read!

Among the highlights are thoughts from the new President of Tribunals, Sir Keith Lindholm on his ambitions for the development of the tribunals service, and reflections from Prof Mike Adler on the Leggatt Review of Tribunals and its impact on the shaping of the current system. Two articles consider different aspects on the training of the judiciary – a reflexion by Christa Christensen on her years as Director of Training, and an important article by Barry Clarke on innovations in induction training.

Alison Rowley writes an important piece on the challenge of dealing with judicial burnout – recently highlighted in the Judicial Attitudes Survey, noted in this blog. The new Equal Treatment Benchbook – also noted in this blog – is introduced in an accessible language summary prepared by Alex Durance. See also the piece by Rebecca Howard on advice in the book on the treatment of vulnerable men.

Paul Monserrat writes on the work of the Diversity and Inclusion Team in the Judicial Office. And there is a tribute to Judge Esme Martins – one of the first black women to hold judicial office.

The full edition is available at https://sway.office.com/GDVBBdcCIDfXZZPp?ref=Link&loc=play

I declare an interest, as a member of the Editorial Committee.