|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): We are today publishing a consultation document setting out proposals for wide-ranging changes to the present arrangements. Copies of the document and of the report of the departmental scrutiny carried out last year, of which our proposals take account, are being sent to a wide range of interested bodies and are being placed in the Library.
We propose to sweep away the barriers to the recruitment as probation officers of people who have relevant skills and experience to offer but who lack the social work diploma qualification which is at present required by law. Under the proposals set out in the consultation document, probation committees will be able to recruit from a much wider range of sources; and
The scrutiny report highlights strengths as well as weaknesses in the present arrangements; and we are determined that standards of training and recruitment should not be compromised. On the contrary we believe that there is scope for more rigorous assessment of individuals' training needs and competence to practise to be introduced. The social work dimension of probation officers' responsibilities will not be ignored in these arrangements and it is not our intention to discourage applications from suitable candidates with social work qualifications. But the work of the probation officers and social workers is different, so there is no good reason for a common training qualification. Now that core competences for probation officers have been published, and are to be used as the basis for performance appraisal, training arrangements should be specifically geared towards those competences. Our proposals envisage greater ownership of training and the maintenance of standards by the probation service itself.
We shall over the next three months welcome comments on these proposals, which are intended to ensure that the probation service has a firm long-term foundation for the provision of high quality services to the courts and to the community.
Baroness Blatch: The Government's funding of Victim Support has grown at a rate unprecedented for a voluntary organisation. Grant in the coming financial year will amount to nearly £11 million, an increase of 8 per cent. over the current year's figure. The record of our funding of Victim Support is as follows:
|Year||Grant||Year on year increase||Percentage increase|
The additional funding given in 199495 and 199596 will enable Victim Support to complete the programme of establishing witness support services in all 78 Crown Court centres by the end of 1995, and to develop further the work of their 365 local schemes and branches which provide emotional support and practical help to over 1 million victims of crime a year throughout England and Wales.
We published the Victim's Charter five years ago today, the first charter to be published. Most of the 50 standards in the Charter have been, or are well on the way to being, met. This has done a great deal to improve the way victims are treated by the criminal justice system. And we will build on this by publishing later this year a statement of service standards for victims of crime. This will be a charter-style document telling victims more clearly what they can expect of the criminal justice system and what they can do if they do not get it.
The Government have taken a range of other measures to help victims of crime. These include giving them better information about progress in their case, and ensuring that their views are taken more into account at all stages of the criminal justice process. A good example of this was the establishment in December of a Victim's Helpline so that any victim concerned about an inmate's possible temporary release can tell the prison authorities. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 contained a number of measures designed to help victims and witnesses, including the abolition of committal proceedings and the creation of a new offence of witness intimidation. These, and many other measures, are firm evidence of the Government's concern for victims of crime and their continuing desire to improve services for them.
|Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|