A PROBATION service that operates across the Thames Valley has been rated as 'Good' by inspectors.

HM Inspectorate of Probation conducted its annual inspection of Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) in autumn 2019.

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Chief Inspector of Probation, Justin Russell, said: "We previously inspected Thames Valley CRC in 2018 and found the service required improvement.

"We were concerned the CRC was not managing risks of harm effectively and there was a lack of services to help individuals move away from further offending.

"Managers and staff have acted on many of the recommendations from our previous inspection.

"The CRC is now much improved and performing well in most aspects of its work."

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The CRC supervises more than 4,200 medium and low-risk offenders from eight sites across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

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Inspectors found robust processes are now in place so probation staff can access and share information more readily with the police and other agencies.

The CRC’s 'Through the Gate' service was previously rated as requiring improvement, but is now classed as ‘Outstanding’ – the Inspectorate’s highest mark. Inspectors found staff tailored plans and coordinated services to help individuals resettle in the community.

The CRC has also made major improvements to the way it supervises people who have been sentenced to complete unpaid work in the community.

In 2018, inspectors raised concerns about the way the service managed people who could pose a risk to the public.

The service has since introduced comprehensive staff training and new procedures to manage these individuals.

Although the service is more effective overall, inspectors found room for improvement in a few areas.

Mr Russell said: "We found staff put together good plans to help individuals rehabilitate, but these plans were not always delivered as intended.

"Since our last inspection, the CRC has increased the range of interventions and services to support individuals to move away from further offending.

"But it was disappointing to see this had not improved the quality of work to reduce reoffending, which was sufficient in just under half of the inspected cases.

"We also concluded that probation staff do not have sufficient contact with individuals to reduce reoffending."

Under government proposals, the National Probation Service will supervise all offenders in the community from next year.

All 21 CRCs across England and Wales – including Thames Valley – will close down.

Mr Russell said: “Despite the circumstances, Thames Valley have continued to invest in staff development and build good quality services.

“Senior leaders are dedicated to ensuring that when current contracts end, staff transferring to other organisations do so with their heads held high, well trained and confident in their work.

"This has paid dividends as staff throughout the CRC remain positive about their organisation and committed to their work."