Privatisation of Approved Premises

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2019 Police & Justice Service Group Conference
7 June 2019

Conferences notes that…

Approved Premises or AP’s are one of the core elements of the Probation Service’s responsibilities. They accommodate, in local communities, recently released prisoners to support and enable them to return to society post release from custody, most often from lengthy sentences. The National Probation Service (NPS) is moving its AP estate from Public Protection to Interventions in what can be anticipated as a forerunner to making the estate marketable in readiness for privatisation. In 2016 during the Transforming Rehabilitation Programme part of the duty staffing at night was outsourced to a private contractor. This has been beset by problems, namely shortfalls in staffing whereby the NPS staff have had to meet such a shortfall. Third party staff have been refused to return for numerous reasons including unreliability, unacceptable behaviour towards residents and staff, undisclosed convictions and a basic inability to communicate in English towards those they are there to support.

AP’s house in local communities some of the highest risk offenders the NPS manages, many lead chaotic lifestyles more often beset by underlying mental health issues. NPS AP staff are committed to and devote much time to their work. It is one of the mainstays of Probation work and achieves many positive results. Moreover, it maintains confidence in managing risk in communities and protecting the public. A change to an outsourced contractor as already evidenced would serve to undermine this and place local communities at greater risk with hostels that could potentially be poorer managed and with significantly diminished oversight by the introduction of an external contractor.

Conference requests that the Service Group Executive should make representations to the Ministry Of Justice and any other bodies of influence that the AP estate should remain under the management and staffing of Probation service employees whereby local communities, the management of risk and the assistance of those offenders they are tasked with are better served.