Parole Board chief executive Martin Jones has been named as ministers’ preferred candidate to become the next HM chief inspector of probation for England and Wales.
Justice secretary Alex Chalk yesterday confirmed Jones as the government’s choice to permanently succeed Justin Russell, who stepped down as HMCIP at the end of September. Sue McAllister has been serving in the role on an interim basis since the beginning of October.
Jones has been chief executive of the Parole Board since October 2015. His official biography states he has spent the majority of the past 30 years working in a range of policy and delivery roles in the justice system.
His ascension to chief inspector cannot take place until he has undergone a pre-appointment hearing in front of members of parliament’s Justice Select Committee. Ministers must take the committee’s views into account before finalising the process.
The chief inspector of probation heads an inspectorate that offers independent scrutiny of the quality of work undertaken with offenders to seek to improve outcomes for individuals and communities. It also examines the effectiveness of youth offending services.
According to HM Inspectorate of Probation’s most recent annual report, the organisation published 31 probation delivery unit inspections, seven thematic inspections, five research and analysis bulletins, and 13 academic insights between June 2021 and July 2023.
Russell used the report to highlight the extent to which “chronic staffing shortages” and reforms had left probation services stretched, constrained, and playing “second fiddle” to prison.
He said the Probation Service was “struggling” and called for an independent review to determine whether services should return to local control following major reforms to nationalise them in the wake of the failed Transforming Rehabilitation programme.