Interserve’s justice business is one of the largest providers of probation and rehabilitation services in England and Wales. Working on behalf of the government, more than a thousand staff supervise up to twenty thousand medium-low risk offenders at any one time. The majority are female and some on occasion work alone.
“The rate of serious incidents is low, but the risk is high. This high-risk led us to provide our officers with lone worker devices.”
Head of Health & Safety, Andy Anderson
Reform for All
Probation reform in 2014 saw probation areas formed into contract package areas and private companies take over the management of probation services for low and medium risk offenders. Interserve runs five Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) across England. Since the takeover, Interserve has been keen to invest in new training, systems, and processes–to make sure that public and employee protection remains a priority. This includes a commitment to continue to train probation specialists, ensuring that all staff are trained in public protection, and keeping themselves safe.
Head of Health & Safety, Andy Anderson says; “we have developed an operating model that recognises that our service users are individuals with the potential to change. Together we will help them realise this while delivering their sentences through community-based projects. Community rehabilitation transforms lives, but we must always work with the safety of both the public and staff in mind.”
“Our community-based approach to probation means we have officers, the majority of them female, out in various locations with service users. These areas are varied and can include remote locations or quite parts of towns and cities. The risks our probation case managers may face from vulnerable people include verbal threats and physical violence. The rate of serious incidents is low, but the risk is high. This high-risk led us to give our officers lone worker devices.”
“People who work alone have to rely on their own awareness, strategies, and skills to help keep themselves safe,” continues Andy. “That’s why our lone workers will complete personal safety training by the end of this year. It re-enforces the potential risks, whilst supporting our commitments to OHSAS 18001.”
Since probation reform, Interserve has also sought to make their approach to rehabilitation consistent across their CRCs. For both service users and staff. Peoplesafe were selected to implement a lone worker solution across all five CRCs, using a phased rollout to monitor progress.
A deciding factor in using Peoplesafe was the discreetness of the Identicom 877 device. The Interchange Model approach to rehabilitation involves probation case managers building good relationships with service users. Some employees were worried that carrying a ‘panic alarm’ could induce a breakdown of trust and lead to problems but, Andy says due to the discreet and unobtrusive nature of the Identicom device, this hasn’t presented an issue.
Probation case managers at Interserve have the confidence to do what they are good at, with an added layer of security should they need it.
“It’s essential we do the best we can to help mitigate the risk of probation work, whilst making sure service users are also comfortable and secure,” concludes Andy. “We feel that lone worker devices and the right training are key to us achieving that.”