Integrated Practice Framework – NZ Department of Corrections

Just under three years ago a consortium of HMA and Able Training began work on training design for the rollout of the integrated practice framework. This has been one of the biggest changes to practice for the New Zealand community probation service for 10 years. It brings to life is the core purpose of the organisation which is to: contribute to safer communities, hold offenders to account and manage them to:

  • comply with the requirements of their sentence or order
  • reduce their likelihood of re-offending
  • minimise the risk of harm they present to others.

These three separate and interlinked elements to the CPS purpose each have overall intermediate outcomes. For a more direct link between the purpose and the way service delivery should be designed, it is useful to describe the elements and the outcomes as they relate both to an offender and to a probation officer. It must be clear to the offender what the probation officer is trying to achieve and how the probation officer’s actions affect the expectations of what the offender will achieve.

One of the problems with the earlier structure was that was very highly manualised and didn’t provide enough structural supports for assessment and responses to the changing nature of dynamic risk. What transpired was that rather than taking an offender centric response, processes were much more focused around managing the sentence rather than managing the offender.

The key components of the proposed Integrated Practice Framework (IPF) include the following components.

  • Mandatory Standards set the bottom line for all probation officers about what they need to do in managing offenders on each sentence/order.  They must be followed each and every time for every offender.  Mandatory standards typically address legislative requirements including sentence/order compliance and integrity.
  • Supported Decision Framework. The second part of the IPF is the Supported Decision Framework (SDF) which: Guides staff in using the tools and information available to exercise their professional judgement to ensure they take the right action, with the right offender, at the right time.
  • Knowledge Bank. The third part of the IPF is the Knowledge Bank which provides staff with relevant information such as research and case studies, and other resources to enrich their understanding of the work they are doing.

The new integrated practice framework is designed to focus staff on doing the right thing, at the right time, with the right offender.  It is clear about what actions are mandatory and provides support to staff to make sound professional judgments and decisions. The outcomes anticipated from this change to practice will focus on achieving better outcomes with offenders and their families/whānau that ultimately improve public safety and contribute to safer communities.

The Integrated Practice Framework to summarise, at the heart of the change is a repositioning away from only managing sentences/orders (compliance) to also focusing on an offender’s likelihood of reoffending and their risk of harm to others.

Ensuring sentence integrity remains critical, by significantly increasing the focus on managing offenders according to the risk they present – in particular their likelihood of reoffending and their risk of harm to others. Ensuring sentence integrity remains critical, hence focusing on our legislative responsibilities around holding the offender to account for their sentence and ensuring they comply with their sentence/order and ensuring actions and mitigations to reduce the likelihood of reoffending and minimise risk of harm to others.

Also critical is ensuring resources are more efficiently and effectively targeted.  This means that once the mandatory standards are met, staff will focus time, energy and effort on offenders who present a higher likelihood of reoffending and/or risk of harm to others.

The change also requires a comprehensive redesign for the supporting policies, systems and tools that assist probation staff to do their jobs.  Probation officers will know and manage the bottom line and move away from simply following strict procedures to making supported decisions for individual offenders using their professional judgement.

Managers will shift focus from ensuring staff only follow procedures to supporting them day-to-day to ensure the mandatory standards are met, that their focus is on offenders presenting a higher risk and to make good quality judgements and decisions. Managers will assist with making decisions on actions to mitigate likelihood of reoffending and harm to others.

So as you can see a significant shift in the nature of the practice. We have been pleased to be able to contribute to the train design for all of the sentence types and as well as deliver training in each of the areas. Over the course of this project we have delivered training around sentence types including:

  • parole
  • home detention and post detention conditions
  • supervision
  • intensive supervision
  • provision of advice to courts
  • community work
  • community detention

In all our HMA team have delivered 450 design days and 366 training days on this project. I think our work is now done and it is now the challenge for the internal systems within Community Probation Service to ensure the ideas bed down and that the integrity of the design is maintained.

 

Published on Monday, April 16th, 2012, under Learning & development, What Ken thinks

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