Agenda item

Independent Serious Further Offence Review and next steps


Steve Calder wanted to note for the minutes his condolences to Zara Aleena, who was tragically murdered by Mr Mc Sweeny.


  • 6 Probation Delivery Units (PDU) were inspected over the summer of 2022
  • On the 18th October HMIP published the first three inspection reports. All were rated as inadequate.
  • Barking, Dagenham received an overall rating of ‘requires improvement.
  • The unification of the former Community Rehabilitation Services (CRCs) and the National Probation Service (NPS) took place at the end of June 2021.  This created the London region of the Probation Service, which has statutory responsibility for over 35,000 offenders in the community and custody in the capital.
  • The overall results were poor, but not unexpected due to staffing challenges post-unification
  • HMIP Action Plan - Recruitment and Retention: London now has support from a national HMPPS recruitment team which has financed advertising probation roles on social media and job fairs
  • A Quality Improvement Programme has been developedto cover the operational HMIP recommendations. This includes a practitioner and manager upskilling package and greater oversight operational procedures and administrative data quality
  • Zara Alena was murdered by Jordan McSweeney an Independent review was published on Tuesday 24th June.
  • The report found failings in the risk assessment of McSweeney and that the Probation Service missed an opportunity to recall him sooner and if had done so would have maximised the possibility that he would have been returned to prison sooner
  • Key recommendations from the review are to:


- Develop processes to ensure that all recall decisions are signed off and submitted bySenior Probation Officers within the 24-hour target period – with compliance againstthis target monitored in every Probation Delivery Unit on at least a monthly


- Develop a London wide initiative on neurodiversity and invest in trauma informedtraining for staff.


Cllr Ghani stated the Mr McSweeny case was due to a failure carrying out a service risk assessment and questioned what actions are being taken to address this.


Steven Calder responded that the Inspection, the inspector's view that the risk assessment we was assessed as medium risk of harm and protect should have been, should have been assessed as a high. The context was that he was there was a late allocation and confusion when he was allocated to a new officer and there was not the opportunity to conduct a full review. What the findings does show, and we do fully accept, is there was information that that practitioner did not receive in in a timely fashion that may have impacted the risk assessment, changed to higher at an earlier date. Which means that he may have been released as a as a high risk of arm, and that may have meant some different actions were taken. There is learning and that we have found across the whole region in probation that there are some failings or so there's some learning around the quality of that risk assessment and that ISIS assessment, hence the entire regional quality uplift plan. For all staff new training and the risk assessment till new training around how to assess risk and then we've got the audit tools to ensure that learning is impeded.


Nathan Singleton noted that In terms of the recruitment issues, they seem like a significant problem in terms of gaps and though oftentimes when people come back from maternity they don't come back from maternity full time and also how many actual vacancies are there after these staff come back. Nathan Singleton further questioned what the recruitment plans are for something that feels like quite a long-term problem.


Steven Calder responded that a lot of the issues with staffing sits with ineffective staff, such as those on long-term sick leave, rather than a mass number of vacancies to fill. Based on this it is believed that once staff come back from maternity leave or sick leave that this will lead to a 81% increase in staff. The remaining 6 vacancies will be filled through recruitment. There is currently a core staff group within the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and no serious retention issues. There is also a significant recruitment campaign that is being driven from the centre to increase the number of probation staff.


April Bald queried if it would be possible to replicate a multi partnership resettlement panel for adults the same way that is done  for children coming out of custody with some implementation of pre-planning - despite Mr McSweeny not being a care leaver.


Steven Calder responded that the resettlement panel is a good one though in the case of probation there Is a different capacity to engage in something similar called CAS Free which has been launched across PDUS. There is currently some funding that commissions temporary accommodation for people released from custody. The first panel in Barking and Dagenham took place 2 weeks ago and was chaired by probation and attendees included commissioning, housing and other partners. This meeting will ensure that the correct duty to refers the correct housing pathway for those that are going to be released of no fixed abode are followed. Steven Calder agreed with Aprils comment that perhaps joining the children’s and adults resettlement panels would be a more efficient way to engage with the relevant partners to reduce the issue around housing for adults who come out of custody with no fixed abode.


Angela D’urso praised that the representation from probation at MARAC and the MARAC steering group is really well attended and the third largest number of referrals that come in are from probation which exceeds neighbouring borough statistics. Probation are also the highest attenders for MARAC training. Angela D’Urso noted that at the last MARAC Steering Group it was discussed about how intelligence is shared and the pathways that go across to other risk management panels such as MAPPA and the IOM.


Steven Calder stated that the inspection rated the VAWG and MARAC work highly and that he  was pleased.


ACTION – Steven Calder to meet with Angie Fuller to discuss children’s and adults resettlement panel.