Strengthening probation, building confidence

Closed 21 Sep 2018

Opened 27 Jul 2018

Results updated 17 Jun 2019

The government’s response to the public consultation, Strengthening probation, building confidence, sets out plans for the future of probation services.

This response was originally published on the 16th May 2019.



The Ministry of Justice is responsible for providing probation services in England and Wales. These are delivered via the public-sector National Probation Service and through contracts with Community Rehabilitation Companies.

This consultation seeks feedback on proposed changes to the structure and content of these services.

There will be a range of engagement activity planned throughout the consultation period: details can be found on GOV.UK.

Why your views matter

In 2014/15 the Government fundamentally reformed the probation system - extending supervision and support to approximately 40,000 extra offenders each year who are released from short prison sentences.

We now have a diverse range of providers delivering probation services, and have seen a reduction of two percentage points in the reoffending rates of individuals supervised by CRCs. In addition, the National Probation Service is performing well supervising higher-risk offenders, advising the courts, and operating approved premises. But CRC contracts have faced challenges for a number of reasons, including changes in the type of offenders coming before the courts and the sentences they receive.

Evidence suggests that community sentences are more effective than short custodial sentences in reducing reoffending, and if they are to be used more often we need a probation system that judges, magistrates and the public have confidence in, and that delivers the right balance of proportionate punishment and rehabilitative support to offenders.

We want to build and learn from what has worked, as well as what hasn’t, and focus on getting the basics right for probation – supervising offenders, delivering the orders of the court and working with others to tackle the problems which lead offenders to commit crime.

To achieve this, we intend to:

  • Introduce changes so that offenders are seen face-to-face at least monthly during the first 12 months of supervision and staff do more to help offenders find accommodation and employment on release from custody
  • End CRC contracts early and explore with the market how we could put in place a more effective commercial framework for probation services
  • Align probation areas in England, helping to strengthen ties with local partners such as voluntary sector organisations, local authorities, and Police and Crime Commissioners. We also plan to work with London and Manchester to co-design future probation services in these areas as part of existing devolution agreements
  • Introduce a standard training framework for staff across all probation providers, and consult on the implementation of  a professional register
  • Introduce new delivery arrangements in Wales which better reflect the devolved responsibilities of the Welsh Government and build on existing local partnerships.

We are also interested in the views of people who have been through the probation system and/or in prison. Organisations supporting people to rehabilitate or resettle, including probation services and others, can use the guidance and questions included in the document below [Joint service user consultation] to facilitate group discussions with individuals in the system. People with lived experience of probation services can also respond directly to our consultation through the online survey.


  • Voluntary organisations
  • Charities
  • Government departments
  • Immigration removal centre staff
  • Young offender institute staff
  • Staff at prisons with mother and baby units
  • Offenders
  • Think tanks
  • Academics
  • Staff


  • Criminal justice
  • Rehabilitation