Ministry of Justice

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The National Probation Service (NPS) supervises about 17,000 offenders across London

Victims of violent and sexual crimes are being let down by “wholly unsatisfactory” probation services in London, according to a report.

In at least a fifth of cases inspectors examined, victims of serious offences had no access to a statutory scheme to keep them updated about the offenders.

The National Probation Service (NPS) supervises about 17,000 offenders across London.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said improvement was “clearly needed”.

Chief inspector of probation Dame Glenys Stacey said it was disappointing to see standards be so “poor”.

“Some victims are not being offered a service at all, while others are receiving a service that is simply not good enough,” she said.

The inspectorate gave the London division of the NPS an overall rating of “requires improvement” – the second-lowest of four ratings.

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Media captionIn March Dame Glenys Stacey said probation services were “systematically flawed”

In at least one in five cases reviewed by inspectors, those who could be eligible for the Victim Contact Scheme (VCS) were not given the opportunity to access it, inspectors found.

The VCS is designed to ensure victims of violent and sexual crimes are given regular updates about the perpetrator, can make representations about an offender’s release arrangements and receive information about licence conditions.

In one in five inspected cases, the probation officer and supervised individual did not have regular enough contact to manage and minimise the risk of harm safely, according to the report.

It also warned the division had “significant” staff shortages.

At the time of the inspection, there were more than 150 unfilled vacancies.

Dame Glenys said: “High levels of attrition mean some offices lack experienced staff and this knowledge gap could potentially have an impact on the quality of services.”

The MoJ said while it recognised improvements had to be made, the report looked at a “relatively small sample of cases when compared with the overall caseload”.

It added it would focus on getting victims the contact and support they needed by issuing new guidance for staff, particularly in relation to domestic abuse and safeguarding children, and that it was employing an extra 211 staff.

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