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Volume 504: debated on Wednesday 27 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he plans to take to increase the level of contact time between probation staff and offenders. (312664)

The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is taking a number of actions to increase the amount of contact time between probation staff and offenders. These include:

allocating resources to the assessment and management of offenders according to the level of risk;

as part of the Probation Trusts Programme all areas (including locally initiated mergers) have identified efficiencies through for example the reduction in management overheads, and development, of shared services, to the benefit of front line staffing levels;

a national programme of specifying probation work, and benchmarking performance, to support the effective deployment of front line staff;

identifying opportunities for reducing bureaucracy and other demands currently placed on front-line staff; and

expanding the use of video conferencing to reduce the time probation staff spend travelling to interview prisoners.