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Probation Trusts

Volume 704: debated on Wednesday 22 October 2008

My right honourable friend the Minister of State (David Hanson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to be able to provide further information about the implementation of probation trusts following the successful establishment of the first wave of probation trusts from April 2008. These have provided much valuable insight and learning, which I am sure will continue into the future and continue to inform the development of further trusts.

The Government are committed to the delivery of high-quality probation services that meet local need. However, the challenges facing the public sector have evolved. It is vital that providers of probation services are able to demonstrate that they are as effective and efficient as possible.

My intention is for all suitable areas to have completed the transition process to trust status by April 2010, as originally set out to Parliament. If services wish to secure trust status and are assessed as suitable, I am content to see further trusts established in April 2009. Areas will be required to apply for trust status and to demonstrate that they can deliver effective and locally tailored offender management services within budget. I also anticipate bringing forward additional freedoms to allow trusts once established to exercise a range of additional responsibilities. Voluntary mergers, initiated locally, will be supported by NOMS and agreed by Ministers where they are more likely to meet these goals.

The Probation Service is going through a significant period of change and one that I anticipate will bring significant benefits. The leadership shown by our committed and professional probation staff at all levels will be critical in making the changes a real success.