Serious Further Offences

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2019 Police & Justice Service Group Conference
7 June 2019

Conference notes that the current process for Serious Further Offences (SFO’s) in the National Probation Service is to assess the quality of practice in the management of an individual case leading up to the SFO.

Conference further notes that during this investigation, information is gleaned in order to improve future practice. The process is not intended to ‘apportion blame’. However, Conference believes that the design of the SFO process fails to protect those under investigation.

Conference recognises that any SFO is a highly emotional process, given that a significant event has occurred causing the most serious level of harm to a victim, in some cases fatal. Given this, the practitioner whose work is subject of the SFO review is left with the daunting feeling of being held ‘responsible’ and therefore becomes totally reliant on the investigation being impartial and fair.

Conference notes that any practitioner would wish to learn and develop their practice in managing people who present the most significant risk, but also recognises that practitioners expect this to be done within an employer capable of resourcing effective practice from beginning to end.

Conference therefore believes that, given the potential career altering outcomes of the process following an SFO, the failing of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms and the findings by the Inspectorate of Probation that there are ‘…pressing national issues for the National Probation Service’ it is imperative that the National Probation Service is resourced adequately to ensure that policies and procedures can be followed to reduce the incidence of SFOs.

Conference therefore calls on the Service Group Executive to work with the National Probation Service, Her Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service and other key probation stakeholders to review the policy and process for SFOs, along with associated resourcing issues, to seek to ensure that outcomes from the SFO process are learning based, for both practitioners and the organisation.

Additionally, Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to seek workforce data from the NPS to seek to ascertain what effect SFO investigations have had on its ability to recruit and retain probation staff.