The probation service in Northamptonshire has been rated as ‘requires improvement’ following an inspection by the national watchdog.
Northamptonshire Probation Delivery Unit (PDU) has received an overall rating of ‘requires Improvement’, although elements were rated ‘outstanding’, following an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation.
Probation Delivery Units replaced Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and the National Probation Service (NPS), which merged into a unified Probation Service in June 2021.
Although inspectors found good arrangements for exchanging information with police domestic abuse units and the council child safeguarding teams, other aspects of work to manage the risks that people on probation may pose to others is said to need improvement.
The report found that less than half the cases inspected were found to be satisfactory in all aspects of this critical part of probation supervision.
However, inspectors say the service has navigated the challenges of Covid-19 and the transition to the probation service “well” and emerged with a “stable, committed workforce and good leadership”.
Chief inspector of probation Justin Russell said: “Like every probation area, Northamptonshire has been hit hard by the pandemic, but it is doing better than others we have inspected to restore services to acceptable levels.
“Although waiting times for people on probation to access services or start unpaid work and other requirements are too long and work to manage risk of harm needs to improve, the service had strong leadership and committed staff who were engaging well with the people they supervise.
“I am confident the foundations are in place for the service to push on to a better future.”
Caseloads were lower than found in other areas and the service was praised for the advice it provided to courts separately rated as ‘outstanding’.
This inspection made ten recommendations, five of which were aimed at making improvements such as ensuring staff at the probation service are using information about safeguarding and risk of harm effectively.
Additionally, leaders at the service are advised to better communicate their priorities to all staff.
Regionally, the Probation Service is inspected annually, however, each year only a third of PDUs are inspected.