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There are over 250,000 people under the supervision of probation services at any one time. Under current policy, professionals provide rehabilitative probation services to all prisoners; this starts twelve weeks before their release, with supervision in the community continuing for twelve months after release. While on probation, individuals may have to:   

  • do unpaid work;
  • complete an education or training course;
  • get treatment for addictions; and
  • attend regular meetings with an ‘offender manager’.

Since 2014, two services have managed offenders on probation: 

  • the National Probation Service (NPS), a statutory criminal justice service, supervises high-risk offenders; and
  • 21 community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) managing low and medium risk offenders.

However, the Government has recently announced plans to reform the probation system. The plans propose a new model of probation services in England and Wales, where the NPS would be responsible for managing all offenders on a community order or license, including those currently managed by CRCs.

This briefing considers on the Government’s recent announcement. It focuses on the probation system in England and Wales and outlines: plans for the proposed system; the history of the current system; and criticisms it received. It also includes statistics relating to probation and re-offending. Information on conditions in prisons is set out in further reading.


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