The government has completely failed to deliver greater involvement for charities in probation, despite this being one of the main aims of its costly and controversial Transforming Rehabilitation programme, according to a recent report.
The annual report of HM Inspectorate of Probation has been heavily critical of the whole programme, including the ambition to involve charities.
The programme involved scrapping probation service provision to low-and-medium risk offenders and setting up new community rehabilitation companies (CRCs). One of the stated ambitions of Chris Grayling, then the Justice Secretary, was to get more charities and volunteers involved in probation.
However the procurement process involved an expansion of the number of people looked after together with a reduction in funding. Charities criticised the programme, saying that it was rushed and procurement was done on terms which prevented them from competing.
Since the programme has been completed there have been major IT problems which have prevented the programme from functioning properly.
“With Transforming Rehabilitation came new expectations," the HMIP report said. "That the voluntary sector would play a key role in delivering probation services, and that providers would innovate, and find new ways to rehabilitate offenders.
“Regrettably, none of government’s stated aspirations for Transforming Rehabilitation have been met in any meaningful way.
“The voluntary sector has always been involved in delivering specialist services locally. It continues to be, but not on the scale anticipated.
“CRCs starting out with wide-ranging supply chains have curtailed provision of late, and so voluntary sector involvement appears to be diminishing, rather than flourishing.”