Given the major announcements made by Government Ministers around their thinking on Early Release Schemes for Prisoners, much was expected in the King’s Speech to Parliament earlier this week.
Unfortunately, nothing tangible appeared in terms of the immediate impact on Probation Staff, save for a mention of the use of Polygraph tests and the use of Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements.
Below is the statement that Napo has used to respond to subsequent media enquiries.
Kings Speech observations from Napo
Napo’s current view is that this King’s Speech appears to present as new what are actually well-established areas of existing Probation practice, in relation to the use of polygraph examinations and the multi-agency management of those convicted of an offence of coercive and controlling behaviour, that are already in use to support the rehabilitation of offenders and the protection of the public.
Polygraph Examination Policy Framework – see the eligibility criteria on pages 11 and 12; the full list of all the offences covered are in Annex 3 – pages 28-32 – and Annex 4 – pages 33-35.
Multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA): Guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) – see pages 150 and 151 (paragraphs 27.11 and 27.12) for existing practice in relation to the specific offence discussed.
Unfortunately the Government continue to offer nothing to address the current catastrophic state of the Probation Service and the underlying issues that leave staff unable to fulfil their roles to the best of their abilities, which directly endanger past and potential victims, for instance on the ongoing levels of excessive workload that plague the vast majority of our members.
While Napo welcomes the principle, where appropriate, of ending the ‘revolving door’ of short prison sentence the Government need to be clear with the public that this will involve an increase in the workload of Probation staff as those responsible for most community-based sentences, which will obviously increase as a consequence of these plans. We seek urgent reassurances from the Ministry of Justice that the millions of pounds of public money currently spent annually on these short prison sentences will be transferred in full to the budget of the Probation Service as responsibility for working with the individuals changes.