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Probation Service

Volume 563: debated on Tuesday 21 May 2013

As part of our transforming rehabilitation strategy, we will create a new public sector national probation service, which will work to protect the public and build upon the expertise and professionalism already in place. The national probation service will work alongside new contracted rehabilitation providers and, in the future, the skills and expertise of probation professionals will be utilised across the public, private and voluntary sectors.

The Government say that private providers will support lower-risk offenders and will be paid by results, but private providers are already saying that they will accept only a small proportion of their fees from the results that they achieve. What is the real risk that providers will take and what proportion of their fee will genuinely be payment by results?

The hon. Lady will understand that in respect of these contracts there will be a requirement for providers to meet the expectations of the courts, so in relation to court orders there will be limited room for manoeuvre as to what is done, and offenders on licence will be expected to meet the requirements of those licences. These contracts could never be 100% payment by results. We will determine the percentage they will put at risk—they will put their own money at risk in this—by consulting all those involved in this business and all those involved in rehabilitation in the future. We will reach the right conclusions; we will work through this with all those involved.

18. I congratulate the Minister on his proposals to change the way in which the probation service works, particularly in respect of short-term prisoners. Will he clarify what the criteria will be to determine whether someone has successfully completed that period of probation? (156192)

My hon. Friend puts his finger on one of the big design challenges with which we have had to wrestle in designing this system. It is, of course, important that those providing rehabilitation services should be rewarded for a complete stop in someone’s offending. That is what the public are looking for here. However, we also want to make sure that there are no perverse incentives and that providers will continue to work with those who are difficult to manage and those whose lives are difficult to turn around. We will have a mechanism for payment by results that reflects not just a binary “did they stop offending altogether or did they not” measurement, but one of progress in respect of the number of times someone offends. By combining those two, we think we will get to the right measurement.