Welsh Centre for Crime and Social Justice. Executive Summary.

People who work in probation in Wales are experts in change; they support change in people’s lives, whilst operating under constantly shifting organisational structures. In the last decade or so, four probation trusts across South Wales, Gwent, Dyfed and Powys and North Wales merged into Wales Probation Trust. The newly established but well performing organisation was subsequently ‘split’ into the Wales Community Rehabilitation Company and National Probation Service in 2014 and despite efforts by its Welsh leaders to implement this ‘irredeemably flawed’ policy, the two parts were reunified in 2020. Therefore, it is with some trepidation that this publication provides evidence for moving towards yet another version of a Wales probation service.

However, the findings of the Thomas Commission emphasised that the current Welsh criminal justice system is not properly serving the people of Wales. Furthermore, re-nationalising is not sufficient alone to address the detrimental ‘legacies of change’ within probation (Tidmarsh, 2023) . To respond to this, the Welsh Government has begun planning for the devolution of justice and encouraged the Probation Development Group (PDG) to support discussions around the development of a devolved probation service for Wales.

Whilst PDG members recognise that more uncertainty over the future of probation is far from ideal, we do think there needs to be further change in probation in Wales beyond the blueprints and partnerships between devolved and non-devolved services to fundamentally address the disparities in Welsh criminal justice outcomes . We support a devolved probation service that better serves the people of Wales and offer papers that might guide a renewal.