Probation staff allowed to use own judgment

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From: Sue Hall, chief executive, West Yorkshire Probation Trust.

FURTHER to your piece (Yorkshire Post, July 27), I welcome the report by MPs from the Justice Committee, as it gives an honest picture of the role of the Probation Service and recognises that the balance is not right at the moment as the culture has become over-bureaucratic.

There is clear evidence that the quality of the relationship between a probation officer and offender can make a clear difference.

If you can motivate, support and challenge, that can help reduce re-offending.

However, the statement that probation staff spend 75 per cent of their time on form- filling and responding to centrally driven emails is misleading. It is legitimate and necessary that they spend time liaising with other organisations, planning, writing court reports, etc.

These tasks form an integral part of the role and it should be recognised that time spent with an offender is not the only time that probation officers spend working on reducing offending behaviour.

The Government has acknowledged that there is a problem and has already started addressing this.

From Monday, West Yorkshire Probation will be bringing in a new system which will allow frontline staff to use their professional judgment, in line with new, reduced National Standards.

We feel this will enhance our work to reduce re-offending and protect the public.