Welcome to Issue #2 of The Investigator: April ’19

Reviewing the PPO/HMPPS Impact Symposium 2019.

Since April 2012, we have made over 10,000 recommendations (including those repeated) in the course of 1,996 investigations into deaths in custody. Virtually all of those are accepted by the prison at the time of issue. Our concerns are about what happens after that:

  • Why are we making so many repeat recommendations?
  • What is preventing our work from having the impact it should?

These are the questions that we put to over one hundred senior leaders from HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) at the PPO/HMPPS Impact Symposium, held at the PPO’s offices in Canary Wharf on 28 March. It was a full day’s event – a mix of presentations from our senior team, responses from HMPPS and group discussions. Several of our main features this issue form  an account of what happened on the day and provide some insight into the issues raised and ideas discussed.

I am grateful to all the delegates for taking the time to join us in London, and for demonstrating their commitment to learning and improving. We were keen to engender an atmosphere of cooperation, but my colleagues and I were also there to challenge the prison service on a number of issues; delegates in turn had a right to push back – and did so on several occasions.

Most importantly, we were there to build a consensus: prisons must do and be seen to be doing everything in their power to implement PPO recommendations following investigations into deaths in custody or upheld complaints. As you will see, there is no shortage of ideas; now, we need to demonstrate the collective will to make them happen.

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, Sue McAllister

Thank you for reading,

Sue McAllister, Prisons and Probation Ombudsman

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman Newsletter, features

Impact Symposium: the PPO challenge to HMPPS

Impact Symposium: a response from HMPPS in Wales

Impact Symposium: a response from the Director General, Prisons

Impact Symposium: highlights from the group discussions

Tackling the persistent problem of prisoners’ property

Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, newsletter, scorecard

Quarterly statistics covering the PPO’s investigations into both complaints and fatal incidents in custody from January to March 2019.

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.

Click on the image above to read about the case of Mrs A, a probation supervisee…
Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, newsletter, Ask the Ombudsman

FOI Request 231, dated 07/01/19:
In your 17-18 Annual Report, you state that there were seven complaints made to you about food which were upheld. Could you please provide me with a copy of the full complaint and your full response to that complaint. I accept that some details will have to be redacted from the documents to comply with S.40 of the FoI Act.

The Ombudsman answered:
After reviewing your request, we are withholding some information under section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Complaint investigation files contain personal information about living individuals which must be stored securely in line with the Data Protection Act. We consider that disclosing this information would constitute a breach of one or more principles in the Data Protection Act 1998 referred to in FOIA 2000.

However, we have provided anonymised summaries of the seven upheld complaints about food in 2017/18.

Prisons and Probation, newsletter subscription