The Howard League for Penal Reform has today (Monday 12 July 2010) supported a detailed briefing by Napo, the probation officers' union, which outlines why the "bureaucratic" and "wasteful" National Offender Management Service (NOMS) should be scrapped by the new government.
A call to separate the prison and probation services is part of the Howard League’s Take Action 2010 campaign, which has been running since before the general election and calls for less crime, safer communities, and fewer people in prison.
Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform said, “NOMS has become a byword for waste, centralisation, bureaucracy and managerial gobbledegook.
“This top-heavy, opaque agency was meant to bring together prison and probation in ‘end to end offender management’. But as the Napo briefing published today shows, in reality the prison and probation services have fundamentally different approaches to reducing reoffending as they work in completely separate environments.
“Prison is not the community and the community is not prison. Prisons are closed institutions which are managed in a top down, rigid manner. By contrast, working in the community requires a localised and flexible approach which the probation service has long specialised in.
“Given this, it is deeply worrying that NOMS has seen a ‘hostile takeover’ of the probation service, with senior prison managers with no experience of working in the community now calling the shots.
“It is imperative that the new government kickstarts its ‘rehabilitation revolution’ by scrapping NOMS and giving probation its identity back. The probation service is well placed to coordinate activity in the community to prevent crime and reduce reoffending, working in partnership with local government, as well as the voluntary and private sectors.”