Inspection reports reveal serious concerns with probation services in Derby City and Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Services in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland were described as ‘inadequate,’ while Derby City was described as ‘[requiring] improvement.’ The reports add to recent worries stemming from problem services failures in connection to the murderers Jordan McSweeney and Damien Bendall.
Both reports highlighted serious challenges with staff shortages and excessive workloads. In Leicester, which received just 2 inspection points out of the 27 available, services operated at ‘near crisis management levels.’ Staff levels in the court team were singled out in recommendations due to a vacancy rate of 43%.
The reports also found that the risk of harm was poorly managed. The Derby report found that insufficient attention was given to actual or potential victims. For instance, staff did not request domestic abuse information from either the police or children’s services in 40% of cases. Agencies also failed to sufficiently consider information they did obtain. Similar issues in preventing harm were also found in the Leicester report, where arrangements to manage identified risks were deemed sufficient in only 34 out of 93 cases. The Leicester report showed especially poor court work in determining sentences, with only 5% of cases being judged as sufficient.
For those on probation, both reports highlighted a need for improvements to reduce reoffending. The Leicester report found that many individuals were released without appropriate support plans. Few specific services for Black, Asian, or ethnic minority probationers were also identified by the Derby report. Specific services that existed, such as translation services, were underutilised.
By contrast, the reports found a good use of special services including for women, homelessness prevention, young adults and substance misuse. The commitment of staff from both probation services despite excessive workloads was praised too.