Heavy case loads, technology issues and infrastructure problems led to a criminal rehabilitation service being rated as “requiring improvement”, a watchdog said.
HM Inspectorate of Probation highlighted weaknesses at West Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), which supervised 8,136 medium and low-risk offenders at the time of the inspection in July.
Aspects of its case supervision were assessed as inadequate, and a key weakness was found in work to reduce the risk of harm to potential victims as inspectors noted instances where, in domestic abuse cases, some staff members failed to identify the potential risks posed to children.
However, Dame Glenys Stacey, pictured, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, also concluded the leadership of the CRC, part of a consortium led by Interserve, was eager to learn and improve as it faced some major challenges.
The report reads: “Staff and managers are passionate about providing quality services but many report being overwhelmed by workload pressures and being weary of organisational change.”
Some case managers had gaps in their knowledge and skills, and that limited their ability to deliver good quality services, but management had begun to address that, according to the watchdog.
She said: “A key area of practice that requires prompt improvement is managing risk of harm. Case planning in general is not sufficiently robust and reviews of work need to be improved across the board.
“This CRC’s senior leaders understand the challenges faced by the organisation. They promote a culture of learning from mistakes and they actively respond to findings from audits and independent inspection.”
Martin Davies, chief executive of the West Yorkshire CRC, said: “We welcome the HMIP report which recognises the CRC ‘is a committed, skilled and knowledgeable’ organisation that ‘has a clear vision for service delivery’.
“We take the concerns highlighted about protecting victims and children extremely seriously.
“We had already identified some gaps and have made considerable improvements in these areas, measures HMIP themselves positively referenced in their report.
“We are further developing our risk management processes and the way we deliver training and support to our colleagues.”