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Probation Service

Volume 737: debated on Tuesday 12 September 2023

Probation professionals perform a critical and invaluable role for our society. We are injecting an additional £155 million a year to recruit more staff, reduce case loads and continue to deliver better community supervision of offenders. We are seeing improvements in performance as that investment beds in, but there is more to do and I continue to monitor things closely.

I thank the Minister for that answer, but he will know that Napo, GMB and Unison all say that the probation service is facing soaring workloads. Employees are battling under the pressure and sickness rates are high. With many workers off sick, the impact on public safety will be massive. Something must be done. Stepping outside the politics of this, will he commit to working constructively with unions and other agencies to bring about a strategy that will address this critical area of probation?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman who I know takes a very close interest in these matters, and rightly so. I commit to working in partnership with unions and other representative bodies and others to make sure that we have the right support for this service. Let me reassure him that recruitment to the probation service has been very encouraging over the past three years and we have managed to exceed our stretching recruitment targets.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

In July, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation reported that it had found that far too many potential victims of domestic violence are at risk from those on probation due to wide-ranging systemic failures in the service. Furthermore, the chief inspector of the probation service said that things have deteriorated since the 2018 report into the probation service. Is the Minister not concerned that, once again, after 13 years of Conservative rule, things are continuing to get worse for victims of domestic violence?

First, may I join you, Mr Speaker, in welcoming the hon. Lady to her place? I look forward to working constructively with her. She raises an important point about the protection of people from domestic abuse from those who are on probation. I can reassure her that we have put in place further measures and, indeed, invested additional money—£1.5 million a year—to support those extra checks into addresses of where offenders may be going, to make sure that there is not that domestic abuse risk.