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This topic presents key statistics describing the workload of the Probation Service in England and Wales. It reports trends on the caseload and the number of people commencing court order supervision.


Offender Management Caseload Statistics, England and Wales
Department: Justice
The annual release covers the two main areas of offender management - probation and prison - in England and Wales. For those under probation service supervision, the main characteristics of offenders, activities relating to pre- and post-release supervision and breaches of community sentences are shown. For those in prison, the main characteristics of the prison population, receptions and releases are presented. A consultation on proposed changes to this publication and related statistics took place between 24 July and 22 August 2008.
Offender management statistics quarterly bulletin
Department: Justice
This publication provides key statistics relating to offenders who are in custody or under Probation Service supervision. It covers flows into these services (receptions into prison or probation starts) and flows out (discharges from prison or probation termination) as well as the caseload of both services at specific points in time. The publication also includes information on returns to custody following recall.
Prison and Probation Trust rating System
Department: Justice
NOMS produces data-driven assessments of performance for probation trusts using an assessment framework that was agreed with the Ministry of Justice - the Probation Trust Rating System (PTRS). This assesses the 35 probation trusts in England and Wales by looking at performance in about 42 indicators.
Probation Workforce Information Report
Department: Justice
These reports include detailed information on staffing numbers at national and local Probation Trust levels, including periodic comparisons and trends.
Probation statistics brief
Department: Justice
Quarterly statistical release on the use of community sentences, including monitoring the impact of the new community sentences introduced under the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The publication also contains information on offenders being supervised pre- or post- release from custodial sentence, and on the number of court reports written by the Probation Service.

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The Probation Service supervises offenders that have been given community sentences and people released on licence from prison. The purpose of their work is to:

  • rehabilitate the offender

  • enforce the conditions of their court order/licence condition, and

  • protect the public

The Service also works with offenders that are serving a custodial sentence, to prepare them for release into the community.

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA 2003) came into effect on 4 April 2005. The Act introduced two new sentences that are served in the community. One of these is the Community Order, (which replaced the old pre-CJA community sentences), which can be given for offences committed on or after 4 April 2005. The other is the Suspended Sentence Order, which is given for offences that pass the custody threshold but are served in the community. If a breach of this order occurs then the offender is usually placed into custody to serve their sentence.

The majority of offenders now being supervised in the community are serving these new sentences. The total being supervised has increased over time as illustrated in the second graph.

The introduction of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 established a new framework for reports, which meant that from 4th April 2005 the types of reports changed. Pre-Sentence Reports (PSRs) became Standard Delivery PSRs, and Specific Sentence Reports (SSRs) were replaced by Fast Delivery PSRs (which could be written or oral).

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Technical Data

Probation data are collected by Offender Management & Sentencing Analytical Services from monthly returns received from the 42 Probation Areas in England and Wales. These data have been drawn from each of the individual Probation Areas administrative IT systems.

A new system for collecting probation workload data, the quarterly probation listings, was introduced on 1 January 2002. As a consequence, information on caseload is now provided directly by probation areas, as opposed to the previous method where it was calculated based on the number of people starting supervision and the number of terminations. The system underwent further development in 2005, to cater for the Criminal Justice Act 2003 sentences and to allow for the transition to a monthly collection of data.

People starting supervision

The statistics count each person once in each year for each type of supervision started in the year. But each person is counted only once in each total or subtotal even if they started several types of supervision in the year. Therefore, the sum of the number of people starting each type of community sentence exceeds the number of those starting community sentences in total.

People supervised (caseload)

The statistics count each person once for each type of supervision being received on 31 December. But each person is counted only once in each total or subtotal even if they were subject to several types of supervision at the year end. This means that the sum of the numbers receiving each type of court order supervision exceeds the number receiving court order supervision in total.


The statistics count all terminations of all types of supervision in each year, including multiple terminations of the same type of supervision.

Criminal reports and inquiries

Until 30 June 2005, probation areas were required to submit quarterly aggregate data showing the number of pre-sentence, specific sentence and deferred sentence reports written, by type of court, in a specific quarter. The definitions of these reports were revised from 1 April 2005 by the Criminal Justice Act 2003. From 1 July 2005 onwards, a new system for collecting monthly court reports data at the individual offender level was introduced, with details of actual sentences given to offenders and the sentences proposed by reports.

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  • Community Order

    Single community sentence introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 for offences committed on or after 4 April 2005. Designed to replace all previous adult community orders. The court must add at least one (but could potentially add all 12) of the following requirements: supervision, unpaid work, specified activities, prohibited activities, accredited programs, curfew, exclusion, residence, mental health treatment, drug rehabilitation, alcohol treatment, and attendance centre requirement for under 25s.

  • Post-release supervision

    Prisoners released on licence are supervised by the Probation Service in the community. The aims of post-release supervision are to protect the public, prevent further offences and secure the rehabilitation of the offender.

  • Pre- and post-release supervision

    Prisoners released on licence are also supervised by the Probation Service both before and after their release. All prisoners given a custodial sentence of 12 months or more serve a proportion of their sentence in custody and are then released on licence. They are supervised by probation staff before and after release from custody. In addition, offenders aged under 22 and with sentences of less than 12 months receive a minimum of three months post-release supervision, provided this does not extend beyond their 22nd birthday.

  • Pre-release supervision

    Home supervising officers, along with probation staff in prisons, work jointly with prison staff on sentence planning and management, including consideration of post-release issues.

  • Pre-sentence reports (PSR)

    Pre-sentence reports are written reports prepared by probation staff. PSRs provide information to the sentencing court about the offender and the offence(s) committed, and they assist the court in deciding on a suitable sentence. They should provide a full risk assessment and a proposal for sentencing that takes into account the risk of harm to others, the likelihood of reoffending, the nature of the offence and the suitability of the offender.

  • Specific sentence reports (SSR)

    A shortened form of pre-sentence report, usually provided on the same day by probation staff. The report helps the sentencing court determine the offender's suitability for a specific sentence envisaged by the court. SSRs were introduced during 1999.

  • Suspended Sentence Order

    A custodial sentence suspended for between six months and two years. During this time the court sets a number of requirements from the set of options available for the Community Order, and these are supervised by the Probation Service.

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Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Iain Bell

Email: statistics.enquiries@justice.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 3334 3536

Ministry of Justice Justice Statistics Analytical Services 7th floor 102 Petty France London SW1H 9AJ

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