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Minimum standards set by MOJ

The lord chancellor has told MPs concerned about the government's approach to rehabilitation that it expects probation providers to offer monthly face-to-face meetings with offenders during the first year of supervision.

There has been an acknowledgement that providers, such as community rehabilitation companies, have faced 'significant challenges' due to unforeseen changes in the types of offenders coming to court and the sentences they receive. The Ministry of Justice is looking at how to rebuild confidence in the probation system.

Probation services used to be run by 35 self-governing probation trusts, working under the direction of the National Offender Management Service. The then lord chancellor Chris Grayling decided to replace these with the National Probation Service, which would manage high-risk offenders and advise the courts, and 21 community rehabilitation companies (CRCs), which would supervise low- and medium-risk offenders and provide resettlement services to released prisoners.

Responding to concerns raised by the House of Commons justice select committee in its Transforming Rehabilitation report, justice secretary David Gauke said the government 'continues to believe that the underlying principles of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms were sound and are determined to build upon lessons learnt and work towards more effective integration of private public and social sector providers in future arrangements'.

Gauke told the committee the performance under current contracts 'has not been good enough, for a range of reasons'. The ministry will end CRC contracts two years early, with new arrangements being introduced from 2020. Gauke said the government is 'taking steps to tackle poor performance in the short term including the introduction of new minimum standards so that all providers offer a minimum of monthly face-to-face meetings with offenders during the first 12 months of supervision. 

A full government response to the committee's report will be published next year, when further details of the government's probation plans will be announced.

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