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Probation: Per Capita Costs

Volume 508: debated on Thursday 25 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the average cost to the public purse was of probation supervision of a person for a year on the latest date for which figures are available. (323747)

Costs will vary depending on the nature and intensity of the supervision. The National Audit Office Report (NAO), “The Supervision of Community Orders in England and Wales” (January 2008) included an estimate of the cost of delivering a supervision requirement. The NAO reviewed five probation areas and estimated the average annual cost in those areas of delivering the supervision requirement to be £652. This estimate did not include the cost of probation overheads. Research indicates that female offenders have more identified needs on average than male offenders with a similar risk of re-offending, therefore supervision is often more expensive. The NAO report above did not account for this variable in their estimates. The Specification, Benchmarking and Costing programme in the National Offender Management Service is defining what it should cost to deliver services and this work is due to be completed by 2011.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his most recent estimate is of the average cost of housing an individual in a probation hostel or in approved premises for 12 months. (323909)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 23 February 2010, Official Report, column 498W. The current grant for approved premises (formerly known as probation or bail hostels) equates to an average £26,600 per bed space for the current financial year, unchanged from the previous year. More than one resident will occupy a single bed space in approved premises over the course of a year, with an average stay of 74.7 days per resident.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his most recent estimate is of the average cost of providing Probation Service supervision to an individual on unpaid work for (a) 160 hours and (b) 240 hours. (323971)

The funding for the supervision of offenders sentenced to unpaid work is part of the general grant provided to probation areas. The actual costs will vary between areas and according to the type of work placement.

The National Offender Management Service Specification Benchmarking and Costing Programme, has produced a service specification for unpaid work / Community Payback based on an assumed operating model. This will enable more accurate calculations of costs and is used by probation areas and Directors of Offender Management to assess Community Payback as part of a best value exercise.

The service specification for unpaid work/Community Payback calculates the cost of commencement, including risk assessment and offender induction during the first two hours of the sentence at £82.40. For an offender attending a weekday work group in an urban area, the ongoing cost is calculated to be £8.83 an hour. The cost of a 160 hour sentence is therefore £1,477.54 and the cost of a 240 hour sentence is £2,183.94. These calculations do not include indirect costs such as premises, which will vary between probation areas. The hourly cost of Community Payback work at agency placements, where supervision is undertaken by the organisation benefiting from the work is less costly, while operating work groups at weekends and in remote locations is proportionally more costly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what factors are taken into account in determining the cost of probation supervision for an individual (a) with a condition and (b) without a condition. (323972)

The supervision requirement is one of 12 requirements of a community order. The factors taken into account when costing the supervision requirement are:

offender tier (there are four tiers in the National Offender Management Model describing different case management approaches and map against different resource levels and offender manager competences);

the length of the offender's sentence;

the offender's gender;

the grade of staff working with the offender; and

the time taken by staff to deliver the supervision requirement, which includes meetings with the offender, liaison with providers of specialist advice and feeding back to the offender manager. The level of engagement is primarily dependent on the tier of the offender.

Gender of the offender is a factor when costing supervision requirement because the OASys research shows that women offenders at a given tier have on average a higher number of needs than male offenders. Therefore more contact time is assumed for women offenders than male offenders when costing the supervision requirement.

Costs estimated using this bottom up process are not the full costs since they do not include overheads. Full costs of the supervision requirement will be collected and published in order to benchmark the whole of the probation system by the end of 2011.