“Our hens is proper pure English. English stock, like me.”

Once again our feathered heroes strutted in to give an alternative view on a tricky issue, causing a couple of the lads to reflect on their ever-present immigration debate (hens originally thought to come from Asia!) “You sure? Nah that ain’t right… is it?”

However, as yet, our poultry are not helping a great deal in explaining the Government’s new policy for the probation service…

LandWorks chicken

LandWorks chicken

Although, imagine cracking an egg, the Probation service egg. You now have two parts (as of 1st Feb this year)…

National Probation service (NPS) in charge of relatively high-risk offenders and still in public service

  1. Regional ‘Community Rehabilitation Companies’ (CRCs) that are privatised, supporting everyone else and that amounts to a lot – approximately 45,000 more people
  2. The new CRCs are now operational; the objective is to ‘reduce reoffending’.
    Working Links have been awarded the Dorset, Devon and Cornwall contract and interestingly are also a Work Programme provider company!

How does this affect LandWorks?…

So far for us not much has changed. Our local CRC team is now dealing with men who have never engaged with support before! Managers with caseloads of over 65 are now common (having 25 was considered high) and we hear stories of men having no probation contact in the run up to release.

Overall I can see possible positives:

  • It must be better to support all after prison release, not just those with a sentence of 12 months or more, but that is an estimated 45,000 offenders this year!
  • It seems to me that it is better to be charged with supporting ‘rehabilitation’ (it’s in the CRC name) rather than just ‘risk and security’, as before.

I can also see some possible downsides:

  • It’s difficult to see how this increase can be dealt with present staff numbers
  • There may be a lot more prison recalls for men who have not committed a new crime but will (so easily) breach the conditions of their 12 month mandatory supervision period… e.g. missing an interview
  • Offenders by their very nature come with a multitude of problems; the work needed to rehabilitate these individuals is not trivial
  • I am not sure I understand how ‘payment by results’ will/can work in this situation; it kicks in late 2015, so perhaps I will by then!

So, early days, it could easily improve, I could talk about making omelettes and cracking eggs. However it’s probably more useful if I continue to update you all as ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ continues to roll out.

If I am honest I think very little of this deals with the core problem; symptom not the cause. The prison population draws heavily on deprived backgrounds with poor education levels.

Bit of a chicken and egg question?