The Skills Council for the justice sector has said the Government's radical plans for probation services will require a renewed focus on training.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has announced that private providers will be incentivised to reduce reoffending through payment by results contracts.
He said that under plans laid out in the consultation 'Transforming Rehabilitation' private and voluntary sector organisations will work together on closing the 'revolving door' of the criminal justice system by tackling lower risk offenders.
In a statement Skills for Justice said that the changes would mean it is more important than ever to make sure that everyone employed in the offender management workforce is equipped with the skills they need.
“Having the right knowledge and skills is essential for the offender management workforce and the National Occupational Standards (NOS) and other Skills for Justice competence based resources will undoubtedly continue to lie at the heart of their HR systems to support effective offender supervision,” the organisation said.
“We believe that the commissioning and procurement process should clearly articulate 'what good looks like' in terms of quality provision and outcomes when working with offenders.”
Skills for Justice said as tenders are produced for work to support medium and low risk offenders it will be essential that potential providers are able to demonstrate a clear understanding of what skills, knowledge and qualifications are required for professional practice in a probation setting.
It also called on ministers to seriously consider a new Professional Register in light of the increasing fragmentation of the market and role to be played by the private and voluntary sectors.
“The national standards we design and maintain for employers cover a wide range of activities within probation including, all aspects of working with offending behaviour, a new qualification that provides Probation Case Administrators with their first bespoke qualification, and mentoring standards which are used by voluntary organisations,” Skills for Justice said.
“Additionally a joint investment between the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and employers from the sector is enabling the development of a number of skills based products and services to support the rehabilitation revolution including a National Competence Assessment Framework (NCAF) that will help provide clarity and maintain the quality of probation services into the future.
“We bring together employers from the private, public and voluntary sector as a matter of course to develop skills and workforce development interventions and have seen some wonderful and innovative practice emerge from people working together to develop new ways of helping people to contemplate and sustain a crime free existence.
“We see this latest announcement as further incentive for collaborative working and skills investment in order that these extraordinary people are provided with the skills and knowledge they need to deliver this essential public service.”
Mr Grayling said:
“What we do at the moment is send people out of prison with £46 in their pocket, and no support at all. No wonder we have such high levels of reoffending. It is madness to carry on with the same old system and hope for a different result.
“We know across the public, private and voluntary sectors there is a wealth of expertise and experience – we need to unlock that so we can finally begin to bring down our stubbornly high reoffending rates.
“Our proposals will see all of those sentenced to prison or probation properly punished while being helped to turn away from crime for good. They will also mean we only spend taxpayers' money on what works when it comes to cutting crime.”