Thoughts from the Probation Institute. March Newsletter
24th March 2020
Thoughts from the Probation Institute.
We at the Probation Institute work mainly from home. In that sense at least our operation is not disrupted. We send our very best wishes to the wide probation family.
We have a real concern for the safety of front line staff in NPS, CRCs and essential Justice Services as the risks of Covid 19 have so rapidly become very severe. We have been surprised at the absence of mention of Probation in news about essential services but it is very clear that Probation Staff are essential workers. Indeed if there is early release of serving prisoners this will be even more critical.
There is comment on social media about insufficient safe arrangements for the supervision of individuals. We are confident that HMPPS will be addressing this…. However, some thoughts from us…….we remember during the TR appointments reading the Working Links operating model which involved not only a huge reliance on telephone contact and some reliance oversight in families. It seemed bizarre at the time – as indeed it was – in normal times. But these are not normal times.
The expectation that Probation staff should continue with face-to-face supervision must surely be reduced towards zero with immediate effect. Placing front-line staff in harm’s way with little or no personal protective equipment would be reckless, as indeed would any requirement for clients to travel to and from appointments, often using public transport.
MoJ must develop safer ways of working without delay – safer in the sense of minimising the risks of infection. There are ways of achieving a level of supervision commensurate with both the risks of the case and the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Mobile phone contact, where possible with visual contact by way of cameras on phones is one. Landlines may be better in terms of establishing whereabouts, though fewer people now have these. Staff should be allowed (and facilitated) to work from home wherever possible supported by the NPS Homeworking Policy. GPS trackers on mobile phones might be considered although this could require some emergency regulations if not already in the bill. Needs must. Maybe even some form of oversight by trusted persons with appropriate physical distance could be considered. MoJ must act to reduce the risks of infection transmission in the Probation world.
Research Conference Working with Families 11th March at Resource for London
The Research Conference on Work with Families on March 11th was a very successful day and it was good that we squeezed this in before the Covid 19 risks accelerated. Shona Minson gave an excellent key-note presentation on the risks to children of sentencing women to prison terms. Shona has done really important work on the impact of sentencing on families with children. Portsmouth University, Kent Surrey and Sussex CRC, the FAIR Project at Cambridge, PACT presented their research. The overwhelming message is that the majority of families would like to know more through probation about sentences, supervision, and how they can help. More research is clearly indicated, including looking at diversity and work with families. If you could not attend but would like to see the slides – on this occasion we will be pleased to send them to you. Contact email@example.com
Directors of the Probation Institute
We are very keen to recruit new Directors for the PI and particularly we are looking for greater diversity and for current practitioners. If you would like to discuss this opportunity please contact firstname.lastname@example.org Probation Institute Position Papers – We will be taking an opportunity in the current circumstances to draft Position Papers on Equality and Diversity and on an effective and stable voluntary sector working in partnership with probation. We welcome ideas, suggestions about the content of the position papers.
We warmly welcome practice based contributions to the Probation Quarterly and we will continue to invite and receive articles for the next issue of PQ. Please contact Anne@Probation-Institute.org.uk if you would like to submit. If you need line management approval to use materials drawn from practice please ensure that you obtain this.
Probation Institute Membership Fees
Members – £40.00 per year
Students, Unwaged and Retired – £10.00 per year
Fellows – £100 per year
If you are not currently a member of the PI please join us and help us in our work promoting right across the probation and rehabilitation sector. www.probation-institute.org/membership