Sheffield probation services rated ‘inadequate’ by inspectors


The city’s probation services, overseen by the Justice Ministry, need to better protect victims of crime, inspectors say.

Sheffield’s probation service has been rated “inadequate” following an inspection earlier this year.

The serve “must improve” after scoring just one of a possible 27 points, Her Majesty’s Probation Inspectorate said.

It faced “high vacancy and illness rates, unmanageable caseloads and staff departures,” said Chief Probation Inspector Justin Russell.

The unit’s job of keeping people safe was its weakest area, he said.

Russell said the probation service in Sheffield had to do better to “ensure that the risk of harm that probationers may present is properly assessed, for the protection of victims, potential victims and the local community.”

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‘Small insight’

At the time of the inspection, in January 2023, too many cases handled by the service had not included “essential information from police and children’s services,” according to Russell.

That meant that efforts to keep people safe could have been weakened, particularly in identifying where women and children were at risk of abuse, he said.

Her Majesty’s Probation Inspectorate said it had found senior probation officers in Sheffield were not routinely monitoring how their teams were handling probationers and had “little idea whether the quality of work being carried out out was successful.”

However, the Inspectorate said managers were hampered by “high workloads and insufficient capacity to provide the level of supervision that was necessary”.

Russell had called on the service’s senior leaders to provide “a clear vision” to return the service to “an acceptable level of service, to the benefit of all concerned”.

Fourteen recommendations for improvements to the Sheffield service have been issued, Her Majesty’s Probation Inspectorate said.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice, which oversees probation services, said: “We have taken immediate steps to address the issues raised by inspectors, including additional training of staff to improve risk assessments and more regular quality checks on management plans for offenders.

“We are also investing an additional £155m a year in the Probation Service and recruiting record numbers of staff to provide stronger supervision and keep the public safe.”


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