Justice Minister Naomi Long has launched a consultation on a review of the status and governance of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI).
The review considered options for the future status of PBNI and proposes that it should continue to be an independent arm’s-length body. The review also considered the size of PBNI’s Board and it is proposed that the Board should be reduced in size but continue to be made up of independent members appointed by the Justice Minister. In addition, the review proposes that PBNI should be renamed as Probation Northern Ireland.
Justice Minister Naomi Long said: “PBNI continues to play an important role in the justice system and delivery of our Programme for Government outcomes. My Department has worked with PBNI in carrying out this review. We are putting forward a range of proposals for consultation and I would encourage those with an interest in the work of PBNI to engage in this process.”
PBNI is an arm’s-length body of the Department of Justice and plays a key role in preparing reports for the courts and others, supervising people who have offended, delivering programmes to support behavioural change and delivering a Victim Information Scheme.
The review document is available via the Department’s website.
Responses to the consultation can also be made online.
The consultation runs for 10 weeks from Wednesday 8 December 2021 to Wednesday 16 February 2022.
PROBATION SEEKS VIEWS OF PUBLIC ON DELIVERY OF SERVICES
Today the Probation Board for Northern Ireland is seeking the public’s views on how to help shape the future of probation services in NI. This consultation is part of the development of PBNI’s Corporate Plan for 2020-23 which will set out the strategic direction for the organisation over the next three years.
Chair of the Board Dale Ashford commented: “PBNI is committed to engaging with communities and stakeholders to inform them of our role in tackling offending, leading in reducing reoffending and rehabilitation, working effectively and efficiently in order to deliver ‘smarter justice’.
“This plan provides an important opportunity for us to hear from stakeholders and communities about the services that are being delivered. PBNI has been innovative, collaborative, and responsive in meeting the challenges of the last number of years. Looking forward, this Board wants to create the circumstances for the organisation to thrive and develop further because in doing so, it will mean fewer people will reoffend and there will be fewer victims of crime. We need your views to help us do that,” he added.
PBNI Chief Executive Cheryl Lamont stated: “The plan aims to build on the strong foundations which have been laid in developing effective probation assessments and interventions, alternatives to short prison sentences, a problem solving approach to justice and direct work with victims of crime.”
Ms Lamont continued: “Many of those subject to probation supervision have serious addictions and mental health problems. Dealing with these issues and facilitating change is resource intensive. 76% of people under probation supervision in Northern Ireland have an alcohol or drug-related problem. Likewise there are high numbers of people on probation supervision assessed as having mental health problems. it is necessary for PBNI to continue to think about how it delivers its service into the future. This includes looking at international best practice, considering technological advancements that can assist our work and enhancing our partnership work with organisations and across communities.”
Chair of Probation Dale Ashford concluded: “This consultation provides an opportunity for stakeholders to inform and shape probation in the future. It provides an opportunity for all those with an interest in probation to help us ensure the organisation is fit for purpose, effective and efficient in the coming years. Most importantly, it provides an opportunity for everyone in NI to have a say in how probation can contribute towards making every community safer.”
This consultation is open until the end of October 2019 and further information can be found at https://www.pbni.org.uk/guide-information/make-decisions/current-consultations/