Napo Chair Katie Lomas was invited to speak to the London Assembly Police and Crime committee about the provision of Probation Services in London.
Katie drew on her work with members across London and their experiences since unification in June 2021.
Katie made it clear that services were not being delivered to the required standard because of staffing shortages and over a decade of budget cuts, not forgetting the devastating impact of TR in 2014.
Katie assured the committee that staff at all levels were going above and beyond to deliver a reasonable standard of service to clients and communities but when asked if there was a cohort of people who did not get the service they deserved over the last decade she said that there was, despite the commitment and determination of staff, because of all of the factors described but mainly due to excessive workloads.
Despite some confusion about the status of the workload measurement tool and the workload management strategy Katie was able to explain to the committee that many staff in London were working at or over 150% of their capacity and this means they were given an extra 2.5 days work of work to do each week.
This means staff simply are not able to complete all of the tasks required of them and this means that clients and communities are not getting what they need. Although the Regional Probation Director suggested that a typical caseload for a Probation Officer was 15 to 20 cases Katie was able to clarify this and explain that a caseload of 30 to 35 cases is typical, depending on the risk and need profile.
Katie was also asked about the process of unification and she discussed the lack of training for all staff in adapting to new ways of working and the delays in moving to a mixed caseload due to lack of time for and access to good quality training. This was picked up in an article that you can read here .
Napo continue to raise issues about access to quality learning and development opportunities that offer space for reflection as well as process based training sessions.