There has been a sustained increase in probation service funding since 1997. Total funding for probation rose by 70 per cent. in real terms between 1997 and 2007, and the number of staff employed by the probation service over the same period rose by 7,000, or almost 50 per cent. This includes an increase of 54 per cent. of frontline staff; probation officers, senior probation officers, and probation service officers.
The chief operating officer of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) submitted staffing projections for 2009-10 and 2010-11 from all probation areas and trusts to Ministers in March this year. These were unverified estimates for internal management purposes only.
Following these estimates, Ministers have made clear their commitment to ensuring that front-line redundancies are avoided wherever possible. Directors of Offender Management are ensuring that probation areas focus their savings on reducing management layers, streamlining support services and cutting bureaucracy, in order to minimise the impact of budget reductions on frontline staff.
However, responsibility for staffing levels ultimately lies with each probation board or trust as they are the employers of probation staff. It is for them to take the action necessary at a local level to ensure they can deliver the required service within available resources.