[2023] C19 A royal commission into the government failures on the probation service and criminal justice system

carried motion
Carried motion

Received from: ,

Motion 66 with amendment and 67

Congress recognises that in society there needs to be a criminal justice system that is fair, accessible and decent for all the public. Since 2010 the whole criminal justice system has fallen into disrepute whether it be access to legal aid, or a right to a fair trial. Congress also notes that for 13 years there has been major cuts to the Prison service, Policing, and Courts system

Congress is seriously alarmed at the continuing lack of effective investment in the Probation Service since its reunification into state control in 2021.

There is increasing evidence to demonstrate the disastrous impact of this scandalous situation by way of:

  • Unsustainable workloads and unfilled vacancy rates, meaning that it is not uncommon for practitioners to be holding case allocations of anywhere between 101-200% against recognised capacity.
  • Service delivery, as evidenced by the cancellation of specialised programmes for those convicted of sexual offences and a huge backlog of clients awaiting placement on Community Service projects.
  • Public safety, where numerous reports from His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation have been critical of Probation Senior Management for not implementing past lessons and failing to develop systems that will create safe workloads and assist practitioners in protecting our communities to the standards expected.

This threatens the integrity and professionalism of Probation, before the service has been given time to recover from the egregious damage that has been visited upon it by incompetent politicians.

Closures of courts throughout England and Wales has seen a major backlog of trials; Wales has seen a major backlog of trials; cuts to the Prison Service has seen a demise in rehabilitation with overcrowding now the norm and we are still seeing unacceptably high levels of assaults on prison officers and staff across the justice, immigration and custodial sector – with well over seven thousand incidents in the last twelve months.

The above issues, which are the subject of a joint probation unions campaign known as ‘Operation Protect’, are compounded by the proposed One HMPPS’ restructuring programme and its threats to jobs.

Congress seeks public support from the General Council for ‘Operation Protect’, and for the GC to lobby the Official HM Opposition to clearly map out their future plans to restore Probation into a gold standard service within the wider Criminal Justice System.

Congress recognises that there is an urgent need for a root and branch review of the whole criminal justice system from policing to prisons our court system and probation service with emphasis on creating a justice system that is fully funded with improved terms and conditions so that we have a system that is fair, accessible and decent for all.

Conference therefore instructs the general council to campaign for a Royal Commission with all political parties so that these aims and objectives can be met.

Mover: POA
Seconder: NAPO
Supporter: Community