This report explores what has changed in the relationship between sentencers and probation services over the past five years and continues our work looking at the fall in community sentences over the last ten-years.
The report finds that the relationship between courts and probation has been buffeted by series of reforms, both the split of probation into Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and the National Probation Service (NPS) and court reforms, such as court timeliness targets and court closures, and these have hampered the ability of probation to deliver high quality pre-sentence advice.
We found sentencers remain largely in the dark about what happens after they sentence someone to a community sentence, they have few opportunities to witness progress and compliance with court orders and that there is no routine process by which sentencers’ perceptions of community sentences are gathered.
Our report paint a worrying picture that the trust of sentencers in the delivery of community sentences is fraying. Yet, despite these concerns, magistrates value community sentences as an effective response to low and medium risk offenders and an alternative to custody.
This work has been generously funded by the Hadley Trust and the Monument Trust.