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PBNI Chief Executive Cheryl Lamont has welcomed the report on ‘Probation practice in Northern Ireland’ published by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland.


Ms Lamont stated: “I welcome this report which reviewed all areas of probation practice during a snapshot in time from October to November in 2019.  There are many elements of the report that are very positive. In particular we welcome the Chief Inspector’s comments that probation has evolved into ‘an award winning organisation’ that has embraced innovation and service development.  The report states that inspectors found many examples of outstanding and good practice and said ‘probation was an exemplar of good practice within criminal justice’ in relation to achieving outcomes.

“I welcome the fact that Inspectors found that despite years of austerity PBNI has taken on ‘additional work in support of Ministerial priorities’ to deliver transformational change. The report also found staff were committed and motivated to support people in reducing their reoffending”.

Ms Lamont continued: “The report has also identified a number of strategic and operational recommendations. We have developed an action plan and already commenced work to address a number of the issues raised. This report will help us take forward the remaining areas of work.  This year we have established a performance practice and research unit to audit and continually improve practice and this will be a key focus for us in the coming months. We have also put in place a ‘People Strategy’ to help develop a culture of learning and continual improvement.”

Probation Board Chair Dale Ashford commented:  “The last number of years have been challenging for PBNI. As one of the smallest organisations within the criminal justice system which receives less than 2% of the justice budget the impact of austerity has been severe.  The Board have been kept updated on the impact of budget cuts over the past number of years and we know that the inability to recruit permanent staff has impacted upon staff morale.  We have worked with the Chief Executive to assist in developing a workforce modernisation strategy which is now well underway.

I want to put on my record the Board’s appreciation of the work carried out by the Chief Executive and her senior team over the last number of years”.

Cheryl Lamont concluded: “We will take forward the recommendations in this report and thank the Chief Inspector and her team for their work which will benefit PBNI delivering on our aim of changing lives for safer communities.”



For more information contact PBNI Head of Communications Gail McGreevy 07825897955

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Probation’s Intensive Programme Challenges Criminal Behaviour related to Drugs And Alcohol

Over the Christmas period we know that sale and consumption of alcohol increases. It is timely to remember the impact that alcohol and drug abuse can have on people’s lives.

PBNI’s Director of Rehabilitation, Dr Geraldine O’Hare stated:

“Within Probation 76% of people who are on supervision are assessed as having an alcohol or drug offending related problem. That means that drug or alcohol abuse directly contributed to their offending behaviour. There is a well-established link between drugs, alcohol and crime.   In fact, one of the biggest factors that influences whether someone will reoffend is their use of drugs and alcohol.

“In order to tackle this problem, Probation has a range of interventions and programmes which directly address substance misuse. This includes a new ‘Substance Misuse Court’, which challenges offenders to tackle their drug and alcohol misuse, which has been launched at Belfast Magistrates’ Court. The new Substance Misuse Court pilot allows the Judge to refer offenders, who have been convicted of an offence related to their alcohol or drugs misuse, to an intensive treatment-focused behavioural change programme before sentencing.

“International evidence suggests that this type of intensive treatment is a more effective intervention to rehabilitate offenders in cases where substance misuse is the underlying problem. The programme is delivered by the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI) in partnership with Addiction NI. It is part of the Department of Justice’s approach to problem solving justice.”


For further information, please contact PBNI Communications Office on T: 028 90262400 or M: 07825897955/07979758011