#NQ4 Measuring success in this brave new world

When a report into probation in Derbyshire revealed that services in the county were now “significantly lower” no one was too surprised. Napo members had warned government repeatedly that TR would be a disaster – it was only a matter of time before everyone else would start to realise it too.

The report’s author, Dame Glenys Stacey, chief inspector of probation, said “standards had slipped” since RRP had taken over the CRC and she had found no evidence that public
protection was being made a priority.

With the government seemingly still burying its head in the sand, perhaps the impending probation services review may force the changes needed. Dame Glenys told members she
herself had three expectations of the review.

The chief inspectorate said that the development of effective performance measures that stimulate quality services and professionals to be able to deliver well was definitely needed.

“Current measures are task orientated and do not tell interested parties how effective or not you, your colleagues, managers and leaders are in your work to protect the public,
resettle, rehabilitate and ensure the sentence of the court is served and served well,” Dame Glenys said.

CRCs having a “sufficiently secure financial footing” is also required to ensure they are able to “settle their operating models, staff their organisations sensibly and commit to work with others” conference was told.

“Measures and payments should stem from an understanding of what is expected of probation,” Dame Glenys said, claiming that big initiatives like transforming rehabilitation “accrete expectations” until the definition of success was eventually lost.

Being chief inspector of probation, Dame Glenys admitted that she might have a different view from Napo members since her job is to set standards, drive improvement and demonstrate pubic accountability. Ultimately however, she hoped that if her and her colleagues were successful, there would be greater clarity around standards and what “good” looks like in this “brave new world.”

There would also need to be a greater focus on sharing good practice. Dame Glenys said: “We can play a better part in that by providing clear, considered, well grounded recommendations and by finding better IT enabled ways of spreading good practice.”

Dame Glenys believes that a “mix of innovation and the tried and tested” is required going forward saying improved technology could free staff up to try out new ideas.

More than that, she felt that the ability to “go the extra mile” would make the difference in supervising clients and protecting the public. Saying that she hoped probation staff would “remain motivated” the inspectorate added: “HMI Probation will play its full part to enable you to do so.”

Taytula Burke

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