In 2018, the Ministry of Justice conducted a consultation – ‘Strengthening probation, building confidence’ – to consider probation reform. Our response brought together our research and policy expertise with the input of people with recent lived experience of the criminal justice system.
We carried out interviews and focus groups to get the direct input of around 100 people with relevant lived experience in the last three years. As well as responding to the consultation’s 15 questions, we also made several recommendations:
- The government must require all probation contract providers to prove that they involve people with lived experience in designing and delivering their service.
- Peer support should be embedded in probation.
- The peer support model being rolled out across the country as part of national Liaison and Diversion services should be considered for adaptation for the probation services.
- The focus of probation contact should be on the quality and length of each appointment with the responsible officer, as much as on frequency.
- All unpaid work schemes should adhere to five principles – clear community connection, strength-based employment, incentives, holistic support and opportunities for employment.
- All probation services should become trauma informed.
- The government should introduce a presumption against the use of custodial sentences of less than six months.