At 30 June just over 20,000 people were working in the probation service—an increase of just over 2,300, or 13%, compared with 30 June the previous year.
I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer. Two horrific cases—those of Jordan McSweeney and Damien Bendall—show how vital it is to have effective supervision of recently released offenders. What lessons have been learned from those two cases, and will the Minister provide an update on the action being taken to address problems in the probation service caused by high vacancy rates and consequentially unmanageably large case loads for probation staff?
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend and again I express my sincere condolences to the families of Zara Aleena, Terri Harris, Connie Gent and John and Lacey Bennett. We have increased probation staff in the London area by 4.5% over the last year, and that includes 270 trainee probation officers in post. The service has accepted all the chief inspector’s recommendations in respect of the two appalling cases that my right hon. Friend mentioned, and it is implementing robust action plans, especially with regard to improving risk assessments.