What will Probation Delivery Partners be responsible for under the new model?
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has announced that during October they will be undertaking a period of market warming for the Probation Delivery Partners (previously Innovation Partners). In support of this, they have published draft contract and procurement documentation. In this blog I will summarise the key things that these documents, in particular the service specification, tell us about what role Probation Delivery Partners will play in the future probation model.
In the Draft Operating Blueprint, Ministry of Justice (MoJ) outlined that they would contract partners in each of the new 12 probation areas to provide Accredited Programmes and Unpaid Work. The blueprint refers to these partners as Innovation Partners. This name has now changed to Probation Delivery Partners and in addition to Accredited Programmes and Unpaid Work they will also deliver some structured interventions.
Other rehabilitative and resettlement services will be procured separately through the currently proposed Dynamic Framework, as outlined in the Draft Operating Blueprint summarised here. As soon as we have further detail about the Dynamic Framework we will share it through our blogs and briefings.
Probation delivery partner service specifications
As outlined in the Draft Operating Blueprint, Probation Delivery Partners will deliver the Thinking Skills Programmes and Building Better Relationships accredited programmes. The National Probation Service (NPS) will retain responsibility for delivering programmes for people convicted of sexual offences and extremism or related offences. There is also an expectation that in future additional Accredited Programmes will be developed in response to identified needs and that Probation Delivery Partners will deliver these too.
Unpaid Work is a requirement attached to a community order or suspended sentence. Unpaid Work as a sentence of the court will continue to have a central punitive element but to improve its effectiveness, the government is seeking an increased focus on employment, training and education within the allocated Unpaid Work hours.
Everyone will be assessed for employment, training and education needs by Responsible Officers and up to 20% of allocated Unpaid Work hours can be allocated for these purposes. The Draft Operating Blueprint suggested that providers will be required to source placements that develop personal and employment related skills for those with employment, training and education needs. In the service specification this is translated into a requirement to match the service user to the most appropriate Unpaid Work placement to address identified education, training and employment needs and provide employment related training for a period equivalent to a maximum of 20% of Unpaid Work hours.
The blueprint also acknowledgement the need for Unpaid Work placements that are appropriate for women. In the service specification this is a requirement that lone women or those identifying as female are provided with appropriate placements to meet their needs, including the option not to be placed in an all-male work environment.
Probation Delivery Partners will also deliver structured interventions to address emotional management; cognitive deficits (where individuals are not eligible for the Thinking Skills AP); and interventions when offences are related to domestic abuse but individuals are not eligible for the Building Better Relationships AP. These interventions will be planned around a minimum of 6 sessions and each have a specified set of outcomes.
Meeting the needs of people protected under the Equality Act (2010) and other vulnerable cohorts
Probation Delivery Partners will be required to provide appropriate spaces for the delivery of services to meet the diverse needs and requirements of service users with protected characteristics.
In the delivery of Unpaid Work they will be required to provide service users with written instructions in a language and format they are able to understand to attend and begin Unpaid Work placements. Probation Delivery Partners will undertake an Unpaid Work induction with all service users which includes an assessment of maturity and learning difficulties in order to identify suitable placements.
In delivering structured interventions, Probation Delivery Partners will be required to deliver them in a way which meets the additional and specific needs of BAME service users, women, those with learning difficulties and challenges.
- For BAME service users this includes a requirement for staff to have appropriate cultural competency training and/or share the service user’s cultural identity.
- For women, delivery must be through staff who are trained in trauma-informed practice and delivery, in either women-only groups or groups which contain other women or one to one with the option of a female facilitator. There is also a requirement that interventions are strengths-based and identify barriers to achieving personal change with specified examples including childcare, domestic abuse, isolation, religion or sexual orientation.
- With regards to learning difficulties, the service specification sets out that materials should be in an easily accessible format and delivery should support referral to providers of specialist services to meet additional needs.
Financial requirements for bidders
- The position of financial guarantees for bidders has been updated in response to feedback that requiring a Parent Company Guarantee (PGC) would likely disqualify voluntary sector organisations from bidding as Probation Delivery Partners. Under Transforming rehabilitation, information about Parent Company Guarantees for Community Rehabilitation Companies was released late in the process disqualifying voluntary sector organisations that had already put significant resource into preparing bids.
- For Probation Delivery Partner bidders, the bidder may be excluded if it has a parent or is a part of any structure other than a single organisation and they cannot provide a PCG. If there is no parent, as is the case for most voluntary sector organisations, no guarantee is required. However, bidding organisations will still need to meet all the other financial health tests that all bidders will be required to meet and they will still need to provide evidence that their turnover is at least twice the amount of the annual contract value for the total of the lots they would be awarded.
Probation Delivery Partners may choose to subcontract parts of delivery and the MoJ have also published sub-contracting and market stewardship principles. These include:
- Management of risk across the supply chain including not passing risk down supply chains disproportionately
- Supply chain ethos – to foster sustainable relationships throughout the term of subcontracts and meet expectations of both parties
- Visibility across the supply chain of payment terms, contractual targets, volume of business and fair apportionment of referrals with regard to easier cases, and how the supply chain adjusts to changing volumes or demographics within the supplier's contract area.
- Reward and recognition of good performance – including the supply chain receiving fair remuneration for proper performance of sub-contracts and recognition of good performance including sharing of good practice across the supply chain.
The subcontracting and market stewardship principles are relatively light touch and do not address many of the issues Clinks previously have raised regarding sub-contracting practice under Transforming Rehabilitation. It is disappointing that the market stewardship principles make no specific reference to social value. They also do not make any provision for preventing bidders naming organisations in their bids without properly involving them in the development of those bids or in their delivery in the future.
How will other rehabilitative and resettlement services be procured?
HMPPS still intend to procure rehabilitative and resettlement services through a dynamic framework as outlined in the draft blueprint. Further information about these services and this system should become available when the Target Operating Model is published and following the market warming for the dynamic framework, both of which we expect later in the autumn. Clinks will publish updates as new information becomes available.
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We welcome Richard Oldfield’s independent review of the probation Dynamic Framework, which echoes many of the issues we’ve consistently raised and recommendations that we’ve made. Read more about the review in our guest blog from Richard Oldfield: https://www.clinks.org/community/blog-posts/independent-review-probatio…