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Agenda item

Probation Services - Durham Tees Valley Community Rehabilitation Company

(i)              Report of the Director of Transformation and Partnerships.

(ii)             Presentation by Bronwen Elphick, Chief Executive, Durham Tees Valley Community Rehabilitation Company.

Minutes:

The Chairman asked the Chief Executive, Durham Tees Valley Community Rehabilitation Company (DTVCRC), Bronwyn Elphick to give Members an update in relation to the work of the Durham Tees Valley Community Rehabilitation Company.

 

The Chief Executive, DTVCRC noted she would remind Members of the national context in terms of CRCs and provide an update in reference to the DTVCRC.

 

Members were asked to recall the Government process of “Transforming Rehabilitation” and the bidding process for the creation of CRCs and the success of the ARCC Partnership in securing the contract for DTVCRC, ARCC being the only partnership arrangement and the only not-for-profit CRC in the country, the majority being large multinational companies.  She explain that in general there had been far reaching criticisms around the reforms so far, and it was added that the model was “payment by results” and had proven to be extremely complex.  Members noted that most CRCs had not seen a reduction in reoffending and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) had reacted by launching a further consultation, with contract specifications changing as a result.  The Chief Executive, DTVCRC explained that the second round of CRC contract would therefore be implemented from Autumn 2020 rather than in 2022.

 

It was explained that in addition to the contract specification changes, there would also be boundary and geography changes, to have 10 regional CRCs and one for Wales, aligning with the National Probation Service (NPS) boundaries, effectively merging the DTVCRC with the Northumbria CRC, with the partnership bidding for both areas.

 

The Chief Executive, DTVCRC noted that DTVCRC had been described as an “outlier” in relation to other CRCs at a Parliament Select Committee, noting that it was a non-for-profit organisation that was “making it work”.  She added that DTVCRC had fed around £500,000 back into the CRC to help with its work.  Members noted there were good working relationships with both the NPS and the PCVC which were beneficial to all partners involved in reducing reoffending.

 

It was explained that DTVCRC was the second smallest CRC, was in the top quarter performance against contract, and staff morale was very good.  Members noted that a gap that had been identified was in relation to links to local employers.  It was highlighted that the relationship with the NPS was praised in all audits and inspections that had been carried out.  

 

The Chief Executive, DTVCRC noted that the CRC supervised around 4,000 participants, with 830 in County Durham and Darlington.  She explained that 90% received face-to-face supervision in local community based venues. 

It was noted that the approach taken was evidence based, helping to break down barriers, and that it helped community integration and provided a one-stop-shop with resources from partners being available.

 

The Committee were referred to slides setting out statistics of caseloads for Probation Officers and noted the operational delivery in County Durham and Darlington.

 

The Chief Executive, DTVCRC reminded Members of the delivery hubs, and various schemes operated in conjunction with partners and relevant agencies.  Members noted an innovative scheme, a “running club” for those linked to substance misusers within the Integrated Offender Management (IOM) scheme.  Councillors noted how the scheme helped in terms of occupying participants’ time, help with their health and fitness and also provided a good opportunity for conversations while running, providing good peer support.  The Chief Executive, DTVCRC explained that the DTVCRC was involved with the PCVCs “one journey approach” to map the female offender journey from Court to Prison to release and had supported the PCVC bids for MoJ funding.  Members learned that the DTVCRC unpaid work clients had carried out approximately 5,000 hours of unpaid work on a number of projects, including: The Deans Park Project; parks adopted by Durham Wildlife Trust; and Finchale College.  Members noted several quote from local organisations praising the unpaid work undertaken which was of great benefit to those organisations and local communities. 

 

The Chief Executive, DTVCRC noted that in terms of issues going forward, ARCC were awaiting the outcome of a second bid and the consultation on Probation.  It was added that there was continued “joint responsibility” in terms of the partnership approach, though with perhaps some gaps in terms of the health and local authority priority groups.  She noted that other areas that would be explored included: better alignment of local employers with service users; services for white males, over 24 years old, and with substance misuse problems; the appetite for co-commissioning; PCVC involvement; and to ensure that DTVCRC continued to be woven into the fabric of our local communities.

 

The Chairman thanked the Chief Executive, DTVCRC and asked Members of the Committee for their comments and questions.  

 

Mr D Balls noted that initially when the Transforming Rehabilitation process had begun many were vehemently opposed to the splitting and privatisation of probation services, in terms of the CRCs.  He added that he felt that DTVCRC was an exception to this and had performed very well, in contrast to the maxim “bigger is better”.  He suggested that other CRCs could learn best practice from the DTVCRC.  The Chief Executive, DTVCRC agreed with Mr D Balls in terms of what the initial reaction to Transforming Rehabilitation had been in some quarters.  She thanked him for his support and noted that the ARCC approach had been highlighted within the latest consultation as an example of best practice.  She noted the good relationships that DTVCRC had with the NPS and MoJ, however, reiterated that the bidding process was competitive, adding she felt ARCC had a proven, strong track record.  The Chairman added she understood there was a good relationship with the NPS, with the Head of the NPS – Durham having presented an update report at the last meeting of the Committee.

 

Councillor D Hall asked if the contract allowed for preventative work to be undertaken in addition to that described.  The Chief Executive, DTVCRC explained that the contract was complex, however, did allow for such work. 

She added there was a diversion scheme in Cleveland that CRC staff were involved with and while prevention would in turn reduced the numbers coming through the CRC, it was seen as the right thing to do, preventing people entering the system, and this point had been made in the bid submitted.

 

Resolved:   

 

That the report and presentation be noted.

Supporting documents:

 

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