Russell Webster - Work with Offenders
Work with Offenders examines the latest research and analysis bulletin from HMI Probation
Her Majesty’ Inspectorate of Probation has significantly increased the range of services it offers over the last two to three years. Historically, HMI Probation has focused solely on inspection work with a combination of inspections into particular probation divisions/areas or on themes such as probation work with drug using offenders. However, under the leadership of Dame Glenys Stacey, the inspectorate expanded its role to publish a range of research.
Inspectors realised that they had gathered enormous amounts of data in the course of their inspections which was a rich mine of information allowing them to explore a range of themes relating to probation work and desistance generally.
This approach has been continued under the new Chief Inspector, Justin Russell, and last week HMI Probation published the 10th in its series of Research and Analysis Bulletins, looking at “The role of community hubs in helping to deliver probation services and support desistance”.
Community hubs are a growing phenomenon in the field of probation, many having been introduced by Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) following the implementation of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms in 2014. While there are many different definitions and forms of community hubs, they tend to provide offenders with services to address drug and alcohol use, housing, mental health, education and employment with the overarching rationale being that people who use the hub can benefit from a multiagency approach while meeting the requirements of their court order or prison licence. In many cases, the personal probation can often attend beyond the period of their statutory supervision to access the resources at the community hub.
The report includes a typology of community hubs via the graphic reproduced below:
The bulletin found that community hubs are viewed positively by both probation staff and service users with a number of benefits being highlighted:
However, the bulletin also identifies a number of key challenges of the community hub approach:
The report concludes with four key recommendations to probation organisations considering operating via a community hub model:
It will be interesting to see whether, when the responsibility for all offender management is transferred back to the National Probation Service under the current redesign of the probation system, the NPS also decides to adopt a community hub approach.