The provision of probation services has been subject to major changes in recent years. The Offender Management Act 2007 initiated the abolition of Probation Boards in favour of a system where probation services can be tendered out to other parties by the Probation Trusts to encourage competition, innovation and efficiency. This move has come as part of a drive to modernise the National Probation Service (NPS) which has fallen under the banner of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) since 2004. On 9 May 2007, the NOMS along with the entire correctional services element of the Home Office joined the former Lord Chancellor's Department in the newly created Ministry of Justice
Under the 2007 Act Local Probation Boards, which came into existence in 2001 as part of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 are being phased out in favour of Probation Trusts which will be responsible for commissioning interventions and other services from the best providers in the public, private or third sector in conjunction with Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) as well as being providers of court services and offender management. Probation Trusts will therefore play a key role in scrutinising probation service provision both in terms of financial performance and service outcomes.Eventually there will be 42 Probation Trusts to represent each police force area boundary [earlier we say that there are 44 police authorities, one for each police force - which is correct?]. Each trust will have a minimum of 4 members plus a chairman but in practice most will have a larger membership. Members of the trusts will be approved by the Secretary of State. The requirement for two magistrates to be members of Probation Boards will not transfer to the new Probation Trusts. The first six probation trusts came into being on 1 April 2008 (Merseyside, South Wales, Humberside, Dyfed/Powys, West Mercia and Leicestershire & Rutland).Each probation area is scrutinised by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation, which reports independently to UK Government Ministers. Probation Trusts are expected to keep accurate financial records which are examined by the Comptroller and Auditor General (or the Auditor General for Wales).