I wish to inform the House that from 1 April 2008, there will be established six new probation trusts operating in England and Wales: Dyfed Powys; Humberside; Leicestershire and Rutland; Merseyside; South Wales; and West Mercia. The Government will be continuing to work closely with and to support those first six probation trusts in the learning year of 2008-09 as they develop and evolve.
There remain 36 local probation boards that continue to operate in all other areas of England and Wales. The Government are currently assessing the performance of all the local probation boards while considering the implications of wider issues around efficiency and effectiveness. We will continue to learn from, and with, our first probation trusts during this time.
In accordance with sections 7, 8 and 10 of the Offender Management Act, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice has published national standards for the management of offenders; his annual plan for discharging his functions in relation to the provision of probation services; and guidelines for the qualification of officers supervising offenders. Copies have been made available in the Libraries of both Houses and are also available on the NOMS website at www.noms.justice.gov.uk/about-us/OffenderManagementAct/.