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Probation Reforms

Volume 656: debated on Tuesday 12 March 2019

Transforming Rehabilitation opened up probation to a diverse range of providers and extended support and supervision to an additional 40,000 offenders leaving prison. The National Probation Service is performing well in supervising higher-risk offenders, but we have been clear that the performance of community rehabilitation companies needs to improve. That is why we have taken action to end contracts early and conducted a public consultation on proposals to better integrate probation services. We are reflecting on the feedback received and lessons learned from current contracts as we develop future arrangements, and we will announce our plans in detail later this year.

My constituent Nicholas Churton was murdered by an offender who was on licence. Following his release from prison, an assessment was not carried out by the CRC, and the murderer committed two further offences before he went on to kill Mr Churton. All this information is in the public domain because I have put it there. I want there to be an independent inquiry into this case, to inform Justice Ministers, all of whom I respect, to ensure that the probation service is functioning and to prevent people from suffering in the way that my constituent’s family have because of the appalling current system.

The hon. Gentleman raises a very important matter. I would like to express my sympathies to his constituent’s family for what they have undergone. I know that the hon. Gentleman has met my hon. Friend the prisons Minister to discuss this, and they may meet again. These tragic cases are rare, but that does not in any way undermine how tragic they are. Because there is a greater workload, with a greater number of people dealt with by CRCs than before, we have seen some increase in the numbers, but the rate falls below 0.5%.

Last week, the prisons Minister offered to meet the family of Sam Cook, who was murdered by a convicted offender who was released on licence, in a similar case to the one we have just heard about from my hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Ian C. Lucas). They would very much like to meet the Minister. Can the Secretary of State ask his officials to arrange that meeting as soon as possible? They want to speak to the Minister to make sure that no one has to experience what Sam Cook experienced and that the probation service is doing its job to protect the public from offenders who are released on licence and is supervising them properly.

I know that the prisons Minister would be very willing to have that meeting, but I make the point to both hon. Gentlemen that we want to get this right, we do recognise that we need to reform the probation system and that that is exactly what we intend to do.