Officer of a provider of probation services



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AUTHORISATION AS “OFFICER OF A PROVIDER OF PROBATION SERVICES”


This instruction applies to:-


Reference:-

Providers of Probation Services

NOMS Headquarters



PI 31/2014

AI 27/2014

Issue Date

Effective Date

Implementation Date

Expiry Date

4 December 2014


4 December 2014

30 September 2015


Issued on the authority of

NOMS Agency Board

For action by

All staff responsible for the development and publication of policy and instructions;

 NOMS HQ

 National Probation Service (NPS)

 Heads of Groups

 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs)

 NOMS Rehabilitation Contract Services Team

 Other Providers of Probation Services


Instruction type

Legal Compliance

For information

All HQ, NPS staff, CRCs and their Sub-Contractors, and Providers of Electronic Monitoring.

Provide a summary of the policy aim and the reason for its development / revision

This instruction sets out the mandatory actions required of the NPS and CRCs in relation to the authorisation of staff to act as an ‘officer of a provider of probation services’ and any subsequent need to withdraw that authorisation.

Contact

Karen Serdet, Directorate of Probation

karen.serdet@noms.gsi.gov.uk

Tel: 0300 047 6416 Mobile: 07964 208096



Associated documents

PI 34/2014 - Conduct & Discipline

PI 38/2014 - Outside Activities

PI 39/2014 - Managing Performance

PI 03/2014 AI 05/2014 PSI 07/2014 - Security Vetting

PI 23/2014 AI 20/2014 PSI 27/2014 – Security Vetting – Additional Risk Criteria for Ex-Offenders Working in Prison and Community Settings

PI 60/2014 PSI 42/2014 - Exclusion of Personnel on Grounds of Misconduct



Target Operating Model

PI 18/2014 AI 18/2014 PSI 24/2014 - Information Assurance Policy

PI 28/2014 - Archiving, Retention and Disposal Policy

AI 11/2013 PSI 27/2013 - Data Sharing Policy

NTS 25/2013 - Using Social Media Responsibly



Civil Service Code

Replaces the following documents which are hereby cancelled: None


Audit/monitoring: Director of Probation for NPS in England, Director of NOMS in Wales and NOMS Director of Rehabilitation Services for CRCs will monitor compliance with the mandatory actions in this instruction.


Introduces amendments to the following documents: None


Notes: All Mandatory Actions throughout this instruction are in italics and must be strictly adhered to.

Contents

Section

Subject

For reference by:

1

Executive Summary

All Staff



2

Policy and Strategic Context

3

Operational Instructions

Annex A

Flow Chart – Procedure for Dealing with Professional Unsuitability

Annex B

Withdrawal of Authorisation Report Form

Annex C

Roles and Responsibilities



  1. Executive Summary

1.1 This instruction contains guidance and mandatory actions to be followed by senior managers in both the National Probation Service (NPS) and Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) in relation to:




  • Authorising individuals under section 9(2) of the Offender Management Act 2007 (OMA) to act as “officers of a provider of probation services”;

  • Withdrawing the authorisation, or temporarily suspending it, if the individual’s professional and/or personal conduct is such to call in to question their suitability and/or fitness to carry out the relevant statutory functions in accordance with the OMA requirements.

1.2 Throughout this instruction where the term ‘officer’ is used it refers to all individuals authorised as ‘officers’ of any provider of probation services.


1.3 Further information on roles and responsibilities is included at Annex B.
Background


    1. Legislation requires that the roles of ‘Responsible Officer’ (RO), ‘Enforcement Officer’ (EO) ‘Supervisor’ and Supervising Officer be undertaken by an authorised ‘officer of a provider of probation services’. RO and EO roles carry the statutory responsibility for delivery of community orders (COs) and Suspended Sentence Orders (SSOs) and Supervisors carry the responsibility for post sentence supervision. Additionally, the Supervising Officer role has an equivalent responsibility for licences and so this also requires authorisation. Authorisation is also required for NPS staff providing both oral and written pre-sentence reports for courts.




    1. CRCs and NPS are required to ensure that only staff or subcontractors authorised as ‘officers’ of their respective organisation carry out these roles.




    1. CRCs and the NPS are required to ensure that staff authorised as ‘officers’ have the requisite skills to manage offenders and undertake the relevant statutory functions in furtherance of the requirement of the OMA, also taking account of any guidance published by the Secretary of State (SoS).


Desired Outcomes


    1. The purpose of this policy is to:




      • ensure that provider organisations comply with relevant offender management legislation and that directly and not-directly employed workers undergo a consistent and appropriate authorisation process.




      • provide assurance to the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and the SoS that all the appropriate checks have been undertaken on all individuals engaged and authorised as “officers of providers of probation services”.




      • ensure systems are in place to withdraw authorisation, or temporarily suspend it, where an ‘officer’ is in material breach of organisation’s staff code of conduct, in accordance with paragraph 3.11.




      • ensure that a central register of people whose authorisation has been withdrawn is maintained and shared by NOMS, NPS and CRCs.




      • ensure that provider organisations comply with relevant equalities legislation and that any authorisation or withdrawal of the authorisation is carried out in a non-discriminatory way being applied equitably, irrespective of sex, marital status, racial group, sexual orientation, disability, religion, rank, seniority, age or any other protected characteristics.


Application


    1. All sections of the PI/AI are relevant to managers in the NPS, CRCs and all of their subcontractors.


Mandatory Actions


    1. All Mandatory Actions are shown in italics and are summarised below. For the avoidance of doubt, in the unlikely event of an inconsistency, the provisions within the contract which place the specific requirements upon the CRCs must be followed.




    • NPS Deputy Directors and CRC Chief Executives must ensure that all relevant staff are aware of and comply with the mandatory requirements within this PI/AI.




    • The NPS must have procedures in place to manage the process of authorising staff, the temporary suspension of authorisation when appropriate and any subsequent withdrawal of authorisation in compliance with NOMS policies.




    • CRCs must have procedures in place to manage the process of authorising staff, the temporary suspension of authorisation when appropriate and any subsequent withdrawal of authorisation in accordance with their contractual obligations.




    • NPS Deputy Directors and designated senior managers within CRCs must authorise relevant members of staff (including any relevant sub-contractors and agency staff) as an ‘officer’ when they undertake a role which requires this authority.




    • Staff authorised as ‘officer’ must;




      • have the appropriate and relevant qualifications, training and experience pursuant to any statutory guidance issued by the Secretary of State (SoS) under Section 10(2) of the OMA.




      • have the necessary skills and experience to carry out the statutory functions relevant to their role – for example to manage the delivery of the sentence of the court and to identify, respond to and manage changes in an offender’s behaviour that indicate the risk of serious harm is increasing.




    • In the case of authorisation being temporarily suspended or withdrawn, this must be communicated immediately to MoJ Shared Services Centre (SSC) via the Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) (for NPS) or via Contract Managers (for CRCs). It must also be communicated to the staff member concerned and the relevant agencies.




    • Shared Services will add names of those whose authorisation has been withdrawn to the central list known as the Exclusion List (see 3.22 & 3.23).


Resource Impact
1.10 The resource impact is deemed to be minimal. Existing NPS and CRC relevant staff have already been authorised, so this policy is in place only for new members of staff including agency workers requiring authorisation and for the withdrawal of authorisation where applicable. This policy does not introduce a new requirement for dealing with misconduct; NPS and CRCs will already have their own codes of conduct and disciplinary policies. Maintenance of the Exclusion List by NOMS will be undertaken within existing resources as it is not anticipated that numbers of staff having authorisation withdrawn will be significant.


(Approved for publication)
Colin Allars

Director of Probation, NOMS

(Approved for publication)


Sarah Payne

Director of NOMS in Wales


2. Policy and strategic context


2.1 The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has recently introduced a new system for the management and rehabilitation of offenders in the community across England and Wales. The reforms include:



  • a new public sector NPS which is part of NOMS, an executive agency of the MoJ;

  • 21 CRCs across England and Wales, each of which provides probation services; and

  • the opening up of the market to a diverse range of new rehabilitation providers.



    1. The aim of this instruction is to provide a framework for the management of the process of authorising an individual to act as an “officer of a provider of probation services” and the withdrawal of such authorisation. It applies to staff who are directly employed by NOMS, to CRC staff, to staff employed by a CRC sub-contractor, and to agency staff.

2.3 Under the OMA, a ‘provider of probation services’ is someone who has entered into a contract or other arrangement with the SoS for the provision of probation services or, where he chooses to provide probation services directly, the SoS himself. An ‘officer of a provider of probation services’ is defined under section 9 of the Act as an individual who is authorised to act as such and section 9(2) stipulates that an individual may be authorised either by the SoS directly, or by a provider of probation services who has been authorised to do so by the SoS.




    1. As such, the NPS and CRCs are all providers of probation services. The SoS through the NOMS line will authorise the relevant NPS staff or NPS contractors’ staff to act as officers of the NPS. The Services Agreements with CRCs empower them to authorise individual members of their staff and their contractors’ staff to act as officers of the CRC. Subcontractor staff will discharge their statutory duty as an ‘officer’ on behalf of the relevant CRC or of the NPS but remain an employee of the subcontractor.




  1. This instruction does not apply to electronic monitoring (EM) contractors and their staff. Although employees of EM contractors will undertake the RO role for offenders subject to community orders that only contain a stand-alone EM requirement, the legislation expressly allows for this and does not require them to be ‘officers of a provider of probation services’.



  1. It is the responsibility of the designated senior manager in each CRC to ensure the policies outlined within this instruction are monitored and adhered to in line with the CRC’s contractual obligations within the Services Agreement. CRCs must have as a minimum a code of conduct policy which sets out the expected behaviour of employees.




  1. It is the responsibility of NPS Deputy Directors to ensure the policies outlined within this instruction are monitored and adhered to alongside the NOMS Conduct and Discipline policy which incorporates the Professional Standards Statement.



  1. Operational Instructions


General Principles


    1. CRCs and NPS must have in place a sufficient number of suitably qualified staff who are fit to undertake the roles where authorisation as an ‘officer’ is required – see 3.2.




    1. The following are the roles requiring authorisation:




  • Responsible Officers for Community Orders and Suspended Sentence Orders

Every Community Order and Suspended Sentence Order has a Responsible Officer, who is responsible for: (a) making arrangements that are necessary in connection with the requirements imposed by the order; and (b) promoting the offender’s compliance with those requirements. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 requires that the Responsible Officer is either an officer of a provider of probation services or an electronic monitoring contractor.




  • Officers in charge of attendance centres, on the basis that they will be undertaking the Responsible Officer role for Community Orders or Suspended Sentence Orders that only contain a Senior Attendance Centre requirement (CRCs only)




  • Enforcement Officers for Community Orders AND Suspended Sentence Orders (NPS only)

The Enforcement Officer role is introduced by the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014. It involves enforcing the requirements of a Community Order or Suspended Sentence Order. This includes the role of deciding whether or not to take an alleged breach of an order to court. The role must be undertaken by an employee of a public sector body.



This role is similar to the supervising officer, but for the new post-sentence supervision period introduced by the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014. The Act requires that it is undertaken by an officer of a provider of probation services (or a member of a Youth Offending team where the offender has transitioned from the youth justice system).




  • Supervising Officers for licences

This role is not defined in legislation, but operationally, the term Supervising Officer is used to describe the individual responsible for the supervision of an offender on licence and it is a term used in the licence document issued to offenders.




  • Roles involving giving advice to courts (NPS only)




  • Those supervising deferred sentences (NPS only)




    1. For the avoidance of doubt, staff do not need to be authorised unless they are undertaking a role where authorisation is required.




    1. All directly and not-directly employed staff are expected to meet high standards of professional and personal conduct. All staff are personally responsible for their conduct and failure to maintain the required standards can lead to disciplinary action, which may result in dismissal, as outlined in PIs 34/2014 - Conduct & Discipline, 38/2014 - Outside Activities, NTS 25/2013 - Using Social Media Responsibly and the CRC Services Agreement.




    1. As a minimum, CRCs should have a staff code of conduct in place and all staff must be aware of its content. Considerations on deciding whether to withdraw the authorisation of an individual officer are likely to focus on behaviour or actions that may be considered to be in material breach of the code of conduct policy.




    1. The Services Agreements with the CRCs allow the SoS to require a CRC to withdraw the authorisation of an individual pending investigation as to whether the individual is in material breach of the CRC’s staff code of conduct.




    1. Within NPS, the Deputy Directors are responsible for implementing this PI/AI and ensuring compliance within their divisions. CRCs must appoint a senior professional lead for authorisation - the Designated Senior Manager - at ACO level or above, who will maintain oversight of this Instruction and its implementation.


Criteria for Authorisation


    1. In order to be authorised as an ‘officer’ individuals must as a minimum;




  • have appropriate and relevant training, qualifications and experience to the extent for their role or employment ensuring that they have the necessary skills, pursuant to the extant “Core Skills in Probation Practice” Competence Framework1 and as set out in the statutory guidance issued by the SoS as well as in line with any specific contractual obligations.

  • have the necessary skills and experience to carry out the relevant statutory functions in accordance with the requirements of the OMA, for example to manage the delivery of the sentence of the court.

  • be a paid worker.

  • must not to the knowledge of the Deputy Director or Designated Senior Manager be currently or recently engaged in conduct likely to call into question their integrity or to damage public confidence in the delivery of probation services in accordance with PI 34/2014, PI 38/2014, NTS 25/2013 and the CRC contract.

  • not be on the Exclusion List, see 3.21 & 3.22.

  • not had authorisation withdrawn if they have previously breached the organisation’s staff code of conduct.

  • not be an Offender on Licence or post sentence supervision.

  • have a level of vetting compliant with PI 03/2014 - Security Vetting and PI 23/2014 - Security Vetting – Additional Risk Criteria for Ex-Offenders Working in Prison and Community Settings.

3.9 A staff member’s authorisation as an ‘officer’ automatically lapses when they leave the employment of the relevant provider of probation services. If the individual moves to another provider of probation services they must be re-authorised by the new provider, under the terms of this instruction.


Criteria for Withdrawal of Authorisation
3.10 All staff are expected to meet high standards of professional and personal conduct. Failure to maintain the required standards can lead to disciplinary action, which may result in dismissal. However, not every breach of the required standards will necessarily lead to formal disciplinary action and each case will be dealt with on an individual basis. If there is an issue to be addressed, the key consideration will be whether the staff member’s conduct is such to call into question their suitability to carry out the relevant statutory functions in accordance with the requirements of the OMA.


Process for Withdrawal


    1. If a breach of the required standards of conduct is suspected, the relevant Manager must decide whether to deal with it as:




  • a capability issue (action must be taken in accordance with the NOMS/NPS or CRC capability policy); or




  • a misconduct issue (action must be taken in accordance with the NOMS/NPS or CRC Conduct and Discipline policy).




    1. The CRC or NPS should also consider whether to suspend authorisation temporarily pending investigation and any subsequent capability and/or disciplinary process. It is for the organisation to determine whether a temporary suspension of authorisation is appropriate in the particular circumstances.




    1. In cases where the CRC has not withdrawn or suspended authorisation but NOMS believes that such action is merited, NOMS may require the CRC to suspend or withdraw the authorisation of that individual immediately while the circumstances are investigated.




    1. Where staff are employed by a CRC or NPS subcontractor, then the procedures to be used will be those set out in the subcontractor’s own conduct and discipline procedures. However, the CRC must withdraw the authorisation where dismissal or the finding and outcomes are such as to call into question the individual’s suitability and/or fitness to carry out the relevant statutory functions in accordance with the OMA requirements. The procedure for agency staff is to terminate their placement and withdraw the individual’s authorisation, reporting the relevant concerns to the employing Agency.




    1. Subject to the special provision set out in 3.16 below all staff have a right to be accompanied to any disciplinary investigation hearing, any disciplinary hearing or any internal appeal hearing by an official trade union representative or a work colleague. This right should not delay the disciplinary process. At the end of the relevant performance, capability and/or disciplinary process, the CRC or NPS will need to consider whether the finding and outcomes are such as to call into question the individual’s suitability and/or fitness to carry out the relevant statutory functions in accordance with the OMA requirements. If so, the CRC or NPS must withdraw (or confirm the withdrawal) of the individual’s authorisation as an ‘officer’. In cases where individuals have been dismissed for Gross Misconduct the behaviour has been found to be so serious that it has fundamentally impacted on the employment relationship so that the employment relationship can no longer continue, in such a situation withdrawal of the authorisation is mandatory and permanent.

3.16 Where a disciplinary hearing is to take place and the circumstances are sufficiently serious that there is a high risk or there is a strong likelihood, if the hearing were to find against the member of staff, of permanent withdrawal of authorisation the following will apply:


(i) The member of staff is entitled to ask that his/her trade union representative or work colleague be replaced by a legal representative at the individuals own expense.
(ii) If such a request, is made the expectation is that it should normally be approved provided that there is no unnecessary delay in dealing with the disciplinary matter
(iii) The final decision as to whether the request for legal representation in such circumstances is approved will be for the disciplinary hearing panel.
There will be no separate right of appeal in relation to the decision in respect of legal representation nor can it form the basis of a separate grievance under the respective grievance policies of the employers. In accordance with the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures it is important for disciplinary matters to be dealt with expeditiously and for there to be no unnecessary delay. For the avoidance of doubt this paragraph does not apply to decisions to suspend authorisation temporarily pending an investigation. Nor does it apply to any subsequent capability and/or disciplinary process where the authorisation is suspended temporarily and the outcome of the hearing could not lead to permanent withdrawal.


    1. CRCs and the NPS must provide via the relevant contract manager or HRBP the names of the individual whose authorisation has been withdrawn. The Approvals and Compliance Team (ACT) based in Shared Services should be contacted immediately, using the Withdrawal of Authorisation Report Form (copy at Annex B). SSC will be responsible for maintaining an up-to-date list of staff whose authorisation to act as an ‘officer’ has been withdrawn. The CRC or NPS must also inform the individual of the decision and of their rights to appeal.


Appeals


    1. There is a right of appeal against all formal disciplinary decisions made at disciplinary hearings and fast-track hearings and a member of staff has a right to be accompanied by an official trade union representative or a work colleague or alternatively by their legal representative if they have had legal representation at the disciplinary hearing in accordance with paragraph 3.16 provided that there is no unnecessary delay in dealing with the appeal. An individual may appeal against the permanent withdrawal of their authorisation via the appeals mechanism. For the avoidance of doubt this does not apply to any appeal where the authorisation is suspended temporarily and the outcome of the hearing could not lead to permanent withdrawal.




    1. When an appeal is made, one or more of the following grounds must be specified:




  • Unduly severe penalty;

  • Evidence not previously taken into account which could affect the original decision;

  • The original disciplinary proceedings were unfair and breached the rules of natural justice;

  • The original finding was against the weight of evidence




    1. A model process for arranging and conducting an appeal hearing is publicised in PI 34/2014 section nine.




    1. If an individual subsequently applies for other job in NOMS or a CRC their suitability will depend on the role in question and the nature of why authorisation was withdrawn.


Corporate Exclusion List and data protection


    1. There is a corporate risk that without a consistent policy and sharing of information, authorisation could be withdrawn from an individual in one probation organisation and for that individual could go on to be re-employed in a different probation organisation, without that organisation being aware that authorisation was previously withdrawn. The Exclusion list is designed to protect against this. The Exclusion List maintains a list of individuals that have their authorisation withdrawn, whether or not this has resulted in dismissal. This list is maintained by NOMS Security Group




    1. The Exclusion List maintains a list of individuals that have had their authorisation withdrawn due to a material breach of the organisation’s staff code of conduct whether or not this has resulted in dismissal. The list will include both directly and not directly employed workers providing probation services who are no longer authorised to act as an ‘officer’, and is maintained by NOMS Security Group.




    1. A note of the reason for the withdrawal of authority to act as an “officer of a provider of probation services” must be made and retained by the organisation withdrawing the authorisation in accordance with the mandatory instructions set out in PI 28/2014 Archiving, Retention and Disposal Policy.




    1. The Approvals and Compliance Team will maintain records in accordance with the relevant legislation (see 3.24). The Approvals and Compliance Team will perform annual data reviews of the Exclusion List, under PI 28/2014, to ensure that names do not remain on the list for longer than necessary, and cleansed appropriately.

Annex A







Aelbow connector 18straight arrow connector 43nnex B


Model Form 1: Withdrawal of Authorisation Report Form



Withdrawal Report Form



This form must be completed in every case where a decision has been made to withdraw the authorisation of an officer as a provider of probation services. The form is used to notify NOMS and the Security Group Approvals and Compliance Team based at Shared Services who will then record the information on the Exclusion List.

Once completed this report must be:

1. Sent to Security Group, Approvals and Compliance team, electronically via e-mail to the

team’s mailbox at:
Recruitment-decisions@hmps.gsi.gov.uk marked OFFICIAL - SENSITIVE - WITHDRAWAL

2. A hard copy of the report form with signatures must be retained locally for audit purposes.


Personal Details of Individual (this section must be completed in all cases)

Surname (enter in box

     

Forename (enter in box)

     

Title (enter in box)

     

National Insurance Number (AANNNNNNA) e.g. ZZ123456D

     

Date of Birth (Enter DD MON YYYY) e.g. 23 Jun 1984

     

Name of Main Contractor; NPS/CRC

     

Job Role (enter in box)

     

Location of Business Unit

     

Audit Trail

Will the Police be informed? Y/N

     

Has a formal investigation taken place? If so what is the investigation number?

     

Does the individual work in or have access to Authority systems/information If so please provide a list.

     

Reason for Withdrawal of Authorisation (brief summary of events)

     



Initial Decision/Outcome (tick one)

Withdraw Authorisation

     

Reinstate

     

Duration of withdrawal proposed- temporarily (pending investigation), immediately (Dismissal), permanently, (Gross Misconduct)

     

Signed by Line Manger and Senior Designated Manager/DD

Full Name Line Manager (enter in box)




Job Role



Signature of Line Manager Contractor, Sub Contractor, Voluntary Organisation



     

Date



     

Authorised by (DD for NPS or Senior Designated Manager for CRC)




Date




What to do next

When you have completed please send a copy via e-mail to the Approvals and Compliance mailbox:


Recruitment-decisions@hmps.gsi.gov.uk
For correspondence, their address is:
Security Group, Approvals and Compliance Team

HMPS Shared Service Centre

PO Box 3037 Newport Gwent

NP20 9BB


When you have completed, please print and retain a copy locally.
Annex C
Roles and Responsibilities

Security Group Approvals and Compliance Team (ACT)
This comprises of a Multi-disciplinary Operational Team who maintain a record of all applicants who have been “de-authorised” under this policy. They will update the Exclusion List and provide NPS Deputy Directors/NOMS Contract Managers with periodic management reports, in order to provide a national context.
Deputy Directors / CRC Designated Senior Managers
Deputy Directors/Chief Executives or their nominated/designated representative will consider the scope and duration of withdrawal. This will be notified to the contractor and individual and subsequently reported to the Security Group Approvals and Compliance team who will note their records. The Deputy Directors/Chief Executives retain discretion on the duration and scope of the withdrawal of the authorisation, but the Approvals Team will be able to provide national data on exclusions giving a context for the normal sanction applied for categories.
Shared Services Vetting Team
The Vetting Team in Shared Services are responsible for managing the processing and the updating of security vetting records for staff and not directly employed workers. They will receive the confirmation of the intention to withdraw the authorisation via the Approvals and Compliance Team, notice of which will give the authority to Shared Services to update the vetting record accordingly. They will also update the vetting record when withdrawal expires or a representation against withdrawal is successful.



1 “Core Skills in Probation Practice” competence framework can be found here – http://www.sfjuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Core-skills-in-probation-practice.doc




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