Case Studies: complaints from probation supervisees

We received just 55 complaints from probation supervisees in 2017/18, a slight increase on the previous year. Many were unhappy about the reports written about them, or the assessments of their risk (of re-offending, or harm to others).

In some cases, although we did not uphold the complaint, we found that the National Probation Service (NPS) or Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) had failed to investigate the supervisee’s complaint effectively, or in line with their own policy.

The case below illustrates the very real impact that probation decisions can have on a supervisee’s daily life:

Mrs A complained that the CRC had refused her permission to return to live at home with her husband on her release from prison. In their original response, the CRC refused to disclose the reasons for their decision. Mrs A asked why she was allowed unsupervised visits home, but was not allowed to live there. Mrs A said that she had disabilities and her husband was ill, and the decision was preventing them having a life together.

When we investigated, we found that the decision not to allow Mrs A to live at home was based on the possible risk of harm to her adult daughter, who lived on the same street. However, although Mrs A was not allowed to stay overnight at the address, the CRC had allowed Mrs A to live there for three weeks over Christmas, and she was allowed to visit during the day without first seeking approval from the CRC.

Mrs A’s daughter was not the victim of her offending and the CRC’s decision was therefore very unusual. We concluded that it was not unreasonable and was (arguably) appropriate for them to seek to protect Mrs A’s daughter. However, we were concerned that the CRC could not provide a reasoned argument for imposing a condition that was having such a significant effect on Mrs A’s married life.

The CRC could not explain why they considered Mrs A posed less of a risk to her daughter during the day than overnight, or why she had been allowed to stay at home for three weeks over Christmas. We considered their assessments of risk were not logical or transparent.

In addition, as we could not find evidence of the CRC considering how this decision impacted on Mrs V’s right to a family life, we could not say that it was a proportionate decision.

We upheld some aspects of Mrs V’s complaint and recommended that the CRC review its decision not to allow Mrs V to live at home and to share as much of their review with Mrs V as possible. We also recommended they seek advice from the Information Commissioner about whether they were legally justified in withholding information from Mrs V which formed the basis of their decision not to allow her to live at home.