OVERSTRETCHED probation officers are having to supervise up to 80 offenders at any one time leaving the public at greater risk, a watchdog report published today finds.
HM Chief Inspector of Probation Dame Glenys Stacey highlighted large caseloads in a report on services in Staffordshire and Stoke. The inspection is the latest to examine controversial probation reforms rolled out across England and Wales in 2014.
Under the overhaul, probation services were divided into a new national probation service and 21 privately owned community rehabilitation companies. High-risk individuals are managed by the probation service while rehabilitation companies are responsible for other offenders.
Ms Stacey said: “High individual caseloads are becoming commonplace in the rehabilitation companies.
“Of course they must manage within anticipated resource, but the public is at greater risk when officers are spread too thinly and if quality assurance is not robust.”
Probation officers’ union Napo said the report is “yet another in a long line” of poor HMIP inspections since reforms and privatisation of the service two years ago.
Excessive caseloads are a consequence of the huge job cuts made by rehabilitation companies over the last 12 months, according to the union. It raises real concerns about their ability to carry out vital public protection work.
Napo general secretary Ian Lawrence said: “We have seen around 1,700 jobs being cut from the private sector since September 2015.
“It is not surprising then that the staff remaining are carrying caseloads way beyond what is acceptable and this will have a direct impact on public safety, service users and the wellbeing of our members.”