The release of the HM Inspectorate of Probation‘s follow-up report today serves as a stark reminder of the significant work that remains in promoting race equality within the Probation Service.
The initial inspection in 2021 showed a very poor state of affairs on race equality, and outlined why the service needed further scrutiny. Regrettably, the latest findings suggest that it is still far from achieving the much-needed progress in this crucial area.
One glaring issue brought to light in the report is the absence of a national strategy outlining expectations and plans for staff, and in delivering services to minority ethnic individuals on probation. This gap in strategy hampers the ability to effect meaningful change.
Furthermore, the report paints a troubling picture of the limited engagement between probation staff and minority ethnic individuals on probation regarding their ethnicity, culture, religion, and experiences of discrimination. The planning and delivery of probation services for minority ethnic individuals have lagged behind their white counterparts, and dissatisfaction among minority ethnic staff continues to persist. This is a disheartening reality that must be confronted head-on.
The report’s revelation that funding for services tailored to ethnic minorities has been delayed is deeply disappointing. It is essential to acknowledge that meaningful progress requires financial support. Additionally, the scarcity of training programs focused on race and ethnicity signals a lack of ambition to drive necessary change and hinders the development of crucial skills among probation practitioners.
Today’s report underlines the critical importance of fostering better communication between minority ethnic staff and local leaders within the probation system. Addressing perceptions of inequality requires concerted effort. Much more needs to be done to ensure that Black, Asian, and minority ethnic staff are treated with the equality they deserve.
While there have been some improvements in the experiences of minority ethnic probation staff, mixed experiences continue to prevail. Many staff still feel that probation leaders and managers fail to fully grasp the unique challenges they face. It is important to acknowledge the diversity of backgrounds and experiences among staff members. While progress has been made in promoting minority ethnic staff to management positions, concerns about fairness in the recruitment process persist, and these concerns must not be ignored.
The report also reveals insufficient overall improvement to minority ethnic individuals on probation since the 2021 inspection. Engagement with these individuals remains limited, and disparities in assessment, planning, and service delivery persist. Practical solutions, such as training sessions to enhance cultural understanding and challenge discrimination, as well as involving individuals with probation supervision experience in shaping training and guidance, should be used to change this.
If the Probation Service is truly committed to tackling race inequality within, it must act more swiftly and decisively. It needs clear intent and a robust plan to drive the necessary changes. We hope that this latest report serves as a call to action – a call for the transformation that is urgently needed. There needs to be a more equitable and just probation system for all. Without it, it’s just destined to be a continual ‘work in progress’ with no meaningful impact.
Notes to editors
1. About the Race Equality Foundation
The Race Equality Foundation is a national charity tackling racial inequality across public services to improve the lives of Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Its areas of work cover criminal justice, health and care, housing, children and families, employment, communities and more.
2. Press contact:
Eva Morrison, Communications and Influencing Manager:
firstname.lastname@example.org / 07593 454182