Probation staff failings ‘put public in danger’ and officials are not learning lessons from incidents in which freed offenders go on to commit horrific crimes, damning new report warns
- Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russel says internal checks are not sufficient
- He says the Government is ‘not doing enough to learn from past mistakes’
- System in spotlight as staff missed chances to stop serial rapist Joseph McCann
Lessons are not being learnt from incidents in which offenders on probation go on to commit horrific crimes, a damning report warns today.
The public are put in danger because officials are ‘not doing enough’ to take on board past mistakes, a watchdog says.
More than 2,100 convicts under community supervision have appeared in court accused of crimes including murder and rape since 2015-16.
In each case, a serious further offence (SFO) review was carried out to find out if the crime could have been prevented.
Lessons are not being learnt from incidents in which offenders on probation go on to commit horrific crimes, a damning report warns today. Pictured: An electronic ankle tag on a teenage offender in the UK
But the Chief Inspector of Probation says such internal inquiries do too little to explain how risks could be reduced in the future and amount to probation chiefs ‘marking their own homework’.
In a scathing 47-page report, Justin Russell said: ‘The Government and probation services are not doing enough to learn from past mistakes.’
His assessment will alarm the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), which oversees the management of offenders outside prisons.
The probation system is already under the spotlight after it was revealed staff missed nine chances to stop serial rapist Joseph McCann, 35, before he went on a two-week rampage last year. McCann kidnapped, raped and sexually assaulted 11 women and children at knifepoint in a cocaine-fuelled spree.
The probation system is already under the spotlight after it was revealed staff missed nine chances to stop serial rapist Joseph McCann, 35, before he went on a two-week rampage last year
As of December, 247,759 offenders were on probation. For its probe, HM Inspectorate of Probation looked at 46 SFO reviews between August 2018 and January last year, including 24 murders.
It found nearly a quarter fudged whether probation staff had taken ‘all reasonable steps’ to manage a convict’s risk of serious harm. Almost a third of reviews overlooked crucial information such as whether the offender was involved in organised gangs or had been previously recalled to jail.
The report said the reviews focused on the ‘what’ of the offence, not the ‘why’.
A MoJ spokesman said: ‘Serious further offences are rare but each one is scrutinised so that probation officers can improve the work they do to reduce the risk of others coming to serious harm.’