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Inspectorate finds many at risk of DA from people on probation

The probation service of England and Wales appears to have made little progress in recent years to improve its practices in guarding against domestic abuse, according to chief inspector of probation Justin Russell.

“This is unacceptable and is leaving far too many potential victims at risk of domestic abuse,” he said.

He was commenting after the Inspectorate of Probation reported on progress made by the service in reducing domestic abuse and protecting victims following the previous inspection in 2018. Since then the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 has become law and there is a greater awareness of the subject in public debate.

Around 75,000 (31%) of the people supervised by the service are a current or former perpetrator, yet only 28% of those on probation had been sufficiently assessed for risks of further domestic abuse, the report found.

Inspector Russell said he recognised the service’s staff are doing all they can with limited resource to manage cases adequately, stating: “Probation staff demonstrate high levels of commitment to their work, often working well over their expected hours, but high caseloads often prohibit them from being able to complete meaningful work.”

Among the inspectorate’s 13 recommendations are:

  • publish a domestic abuse strategy and regularly review progress;
  • ensure all people on probation receive intervention in a timely way when required;
  • identify all actual and potential adult and child victims of domestic abuse;
  • liaise better with associated agencies, including ensuring victims are protected and informed of the sentence management process’s progress; and
  • close the loophole which allows police forces to decline sharing information with probation staff about domestic abuse incidents involving a person under probation.

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