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Prison and Probation Officers: Gross Misconduct Charges

Volume 661: debated on Tuesday 4 June 2019

7. What steps he is taking to improve legal protections for prison and probation officers facing charges of gross misconduct. (911112)

The existing process is an internal employment process and is compliant with both employment law and ACAS best practice. It exists to identify where misconduct has occurred and to hold individuals to account. By holding all prison and probation officers to the high standard we expect, we protect the reputation of the entire service.

Napo has called for the scapegoating of probation officers to end, especially with the reviewing of cases that have already been covered by a review. It insists that senior managers are driven by a desire to be seen to be doing something rather than to deal with the root cause, which is the unbearable workload pressures caused by mass vacancies. Does the Minister agree that the probation service should take responsibility for structural failures leading to serious further offences, rather than hanging its workers out to dry?

The hon. Lady makes a very proper point, and I pay tribute to the probation officers I have worked with over many years. They are dedicated public servants who use their professional judgment and skill to help assess risk, which is an onerous task. I do not approve of scapegoating. I expect the service to support probation officers who are under pressure, but for cases where there needs to be an investigation, due process then has to take place.