London probation service standards and staff morale fall

Standards at London’s probation service have fallen with staff feeling “overwhelmed” by their workload and having to work “unsupervised and unsupported”, a report has found.

The report, conducted by HM Inspectorate of Probation, revealed work in just 54% of cases met the level needed to ensure the public was well protected.

The inspectors found probation officers were struggling under the pressure of large caseloads, staff sickness and an unreliable IT system.

Chief inspector Andrew Bridges said: “We have noted that there are a number of factors that have made it difficult for London staff to carry out effective practice.

“These included high numbers of particularly difficult offenders, some high individual caseloads – sometimes exacerbated by staff sickness – and an IT system that often froze or failed altogether.”

Staff working in offices with high sickness levels told inspectors they felt “overwhelmed”, while others reporting feeling “unsupervised and unsupported” by their bosses, the BBC reported.

The inspectors also found cases of managers being prepared to approve unsatisfactory work.

Justice minister Maria Eagle said: “Improving the performance of London probation is a significant priority.”

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