Probation officers to stage doorstep interviews with serious offenders in face of coronavirus restrictions

Probation officers are revamping their working practices to meet the need to supervise some of Britain's most dangerous released offenders

Inside prison before release

Probation officers are to hold doorstep interviews with released murderers and other serious offenders in order to avoid them breaching the Government's lockdown.

The officers will travel to the homes of the offenders rather than holding face to face meetings in probation offices, where staff are being encouraged to work from home despite being key workers.

Probation officers will be expected to maintain the two metre "social distance" as they conduct their interviews to assess the progress of the offenders' probation.

If they cannot be heard because of the location, they can use their phones provided the offender remains in sight - even if it is conducted through a window.

The probation officers will continue to hold face to face meetings with terrorists, offenders who do not have phones and those reporting for their initial appointment.

Lower-risk offenders will now be supervised more frequently, via telephone or video messaging.

A probation service spokesman said: “The public rightly expects us to have plans to continue keeping them safe whatever the impact of Covid-19 – and that’s exactly what we are doing.

“Probation officers will continue supervising in person those who pose the highest risk ensuring the monitoring of high-risk offenders remains as tough as it always is. If staff believe it is the right thing to do, offenders can always be recalled to prison.

“At the same time, we will use technology more to supervise lower-risk offenders to reduce the spread of the virus. These measures will be regularly reviewed.”

All qualified probation staff working in HMPPS headquarters or based in London prisons are being redeployed to the frontline service in the community.

Daily calls between individual probation divisions, police forces and local authority social services departments will be scheduled in order to continue the flow of intelligence and review police callouts as part of the risk management process.