Report considers development of devolved Probation Service in Wales
A group of academics from Welsh universities, along with current and former probation officers, have published a report considering the possible development of a devolved Probation Service in Wales.
It comes after the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales recently published its report recommending the devolution of probation to Wales.
The Probation Development Group, part of the Welsh Centre for Crime and Social Justice (WCCSJ) which includes academics from the University of South Wales, Bangor University and Swansea University, has set out evidence and ways of working for developing a devolved probation service in Wales.
The report also includes thinking on a new independent probation service centred on the supervisory relationship between the probation officer and the probationer, better use of evidenced-based interventions, local resources, and strong partnerships.
The group also highlights the important role of the community and community sentences, to promote effective rehabilitation and victim safety.
The group says that probation delivered effectively can lead to less costly imprisonment, reductions in offending, and safer communities with fewer victims of crime.
Swansea University Criminology lecturer and former senior probation officer, Ella Rabaiotti, who convenes the Probation Development Group, said: “Whilst we recognise that more disruption within probation is far from ideal, we do think there needs to be to a stronger evidenced-based approach to probation work to help address the real disparities in Welsh criminal justice outcomes.
“It will be for policymakers to decide on the shape of a Welsh Probation Service in proper consultation with the appropriate stakeholders, but there is significant learning offered in our publication to potentially improve community safety and social justice for all communities in Wales.”
The work of the independent expert group aims to contribute to the Welsh Government’s justice policy plans, following the conclusions of the Thomas Commission which found that the current criminal justice system is not serving the people of Wales.
They say this has now been further reinforced by the new report from the Independent Commission.
The group’s views follow concerns by the outgoing Chief Inspector of Probation, Justin Russell who stated that probation standards have ‘worsened’ in the last two years. And the latest findings from the Wales Governance Centre state that the Welsh imprisonment rate continues to exceed any other part of the UK.
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