At the beginning of this week, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) officially replaced the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), but what is HMPPS and how is it different to NOMS?
HMPPS will continue many of the duties originally held by NOMS, taking full responsibility for the operational management of offenders in custody and the community. They will be responsible for implementing many of the government’s plans from their Prison and Safety Reform White Paper with a stronger emphasis being placed on reducing reoffending. It will focus on strengthening security in prisons, building intelligence about criminal gangs and tackling extremism. The service will also launch a new leadership programme and new promotion opportunities for current members of staff, supported by the recruitment of 2,500 more prison officers.
Like NOMS, this new organisation will be responsible for managing prisons and probation. A key difference is that certain operations previously controlled by NOMS are now being passed back to the Ministry of Justice. The MoJ will now manage commissioning services, making policy, setting standards and monitoring performance, giving HMPPS more time and resources to focus on other areas.
The key goals outlined by HMPPS are improving rehabilitation, attracting and keeping staff, building pride and professionalism, making more decisions locally, and creating safer, modernised prisons. A more detailed focus is being placed on a number of different aspects of the prison service, including the management of female offenders, a new youth custody service, mentors for prison officers, 20% increase in youth custody staff, clear career paths for prison staff, and increased governor control of prisoner budgets and daily prison life.
HMPPS has been created by Justice Secretary Liz Truss and the Ministry of Justice to solve many of the problems faced previously by NOMS, reduce the likelihood of reoffending and professionalise the prison service. Liz Truss has stated that “we will never be able to address the issue of re-offending if we do not address the current level of violence and safety issues in our prisons. That is why I am determined to make prisons work. This requires a huge cultural and structural change within our prisons – a transformation away from offender warehouses to disciplined and purposeful centres of reform where all prisoners get a second chance at leading a good life.”
The organisation will be led by Michael Spurr, the previous head of NOMS, who has stated “the launch of HMPPS provides a great opportunity to focus on and improve operational performance in prisons and probation. There is a great deal to do but I am confident that with the additional resources the government are providing, we can transform the system and deliver the high quality service the public deserve.”
Justice Secretary Liz Truss has said that “this new and operationally focused frontline service will implement the reforms we have announced to make our prisons safe and cut reoffending. Our prison and probation officers do a vital job and they deserve to work in a world-class organisation which supports them in reforming offenders and keeping the public safe. Creating HMPPS will bring clarity to managing our prisons and probation services while further professionalising staff and building pride in their work.”
Since its launch, HMPPS has created a mixture of opinions within the sector. Whilst many recognise the positive outcomes of these changes, some are dissatisfied with the change and feel that the same organisation and challenges exist under a different title. At OlassJobs, we welcome anything that places a stronger emphasis on offender rehabilitation with the aim of lessening the probability of reoffending.
All eyes will be on HMPPS over the next few months, monitoring its performance and watching how it handles its new responsibilities. If HMPPS is successful in all of its key goals, it could have a huge, positive impact on the Justice system and transform things for the better.