'Cuts are Threat to Justice System'
- 29 Aug
Drug users are being sent on non-existent rehabilitation programmes as a result of Government cost-cutting, according to North-East probation officers.
Staff in 20 of the 35 probation trust areas in England and Wales reported concerns to Napo during the six months to July.
The claims are made in a damning report drawn up for the National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) that says the justice system is under unprecedented pressure.
Probation officers say courts in the region are often forced to sentence criminals without detailed reports, leading to defendants receiving inappropriate sentences.
In some cases, they say curfews have been imposed on defendants convicted of domestic violence, increasing the risk of further harm to their victims.
The union says the fair administration of justice is being undermined by court closures, cuts to legal aid and shrinking budgets for the police, probation and prison services.
Issues raised by Napo members working for Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust - which covers Darlington, County Durham and Teesside - include:
- Defendants being sent on drink and drug programmes that no longer exist;
- A lack of qualified probation staff in courts;
- Unnecessary use of short prison sentences;
- A deterioration in information provided by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Assistant general secretary Harry Fletcher said:
It is of concern that staff are reporting inappropriate sentences are being handed down, such as curfews in domestic violence cases.
Staff report an increase in delays and adjournments in both family and criminal courts because of reports not being available, defendants not showing up at court - possibly because of court closures meaning greater travelling distances - and the absence of legal aid.
These pressures are leading to court reports being produced quickly, on the day, therefore not containing detailed social histories, which impacts on the nature of sentencing.
The probation service is facing a 15 per cent reduction in its budget up to 2015, while the CPS will have its funds cut by a quarter, and police forces across the country are being forced to make savings of about 20 per cent.
A CPS spokeswoman said probation officers needed to raise issues over the quality of information provided to prosecutors on an individual basis, so concerns could be addressed.
No one from the DTV Probation Trust, based in Middlesbrough, was available for comment, but a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said:
We are taking forward reforms which will benefit victims and ensure more offenders are quickly punished with a sentence that fits their crime.
These include maximising the use of video-link technology, improving the way agencies work together, removing bureaucracy and providing value for money.
- 11 Sep
Prisons told to adjust for older inmates
Ombudsman Nigel Newcomen says prisons will have to take on "care home and even hospice" roles in future, reports the BBC. He said: "It is remarkable that the fastest growing segment of the prison...
- 31 Jul
Charities are best at reducing re-offending
A report by charity thinktank New Philanthropy Capital has found that 28% of charity projects have helped to reduce reoffending compared to 19% of private companies, reports the Guardian.The report...
- 29 Jul
It could become illegal to deny offenders legal aid
It could become illegal to deny prisoners in England and Wales legal aid so that they are able to effectively challenge the conditions they are held under, rules the court of appeal, reports the...
- 08 Jul
Offender’s rehabilitation is delayed by legal aid restrictions
The court of appeal has been told that thousands of prisoners are being prevented from starting rehabilitation due to them being denied legal aid for parole board hearings, reports the...
- 17 Mar
New supported accommodation for ex-offenders in Birmingham
Trident Reach the People Charity's new Reach House has been built to provide 24-hour supported accommodation for young offenders to help support them getting back into the community after their...
- 12 Mar
Staff working with young offenders criticised
A report by three inspection bodies has said that staff aimed at helping reduce re-offending in young offenders are "too often suspicious of each other" reports the BBC.The report, by the Care...
- 19 Sep
Family homes are needed to help offenders re-offending
A study by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, HM Inspectorate of Probation and Ofsted had found that almost one in five prisoners did not know where they would be living once they left jail, reports Inside...
- 16 Sep
Ex-offenders ‘lacking home and job'
An inspection into resettlement provision for adult prisoners had followed 80 offenders after they left prison. Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said that it found the role of a prisoner's...
- 16 May
Offenders placed in prison for a day in a bid to cut re-offending
The Centre for Social Justice has urged the government to look to the US where this approach appears to work. The report has said that a third of people given community sentences re-offended within a...
- 30 Jan
Inspection finds offenders with learning disabilities are not being supported
The inspection looking into the treatment of offenders with learning disabilities within the criminal justice systems was conducted by HM Inspectorate of Probation, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary,...
Responding to the DWP Consultation: Housing Benefit Reform - Supported Housing "Sincere thanks to Michael Patterson for an excellent presentation on the HB Reform issues in Leeds last week, and for all the very helpful info and links. I do intend to respond on behalf of our organisation, Caring For Life, but feel that Support Solutions' response is excellent." E.S. - Caring for Life