The civil servant in charge of no-deal Brexit preparations at the Ministry of Justice has been put forward as the next chief probation inspector, the MoJ has announced.
Justin Russell, who was appointed as director general for no-deal EU exit planning only this month, was nominated for the HM chief inspector of probation role by justice secretary David Gauke following a rigorous assessment process, the MoJ said.
He will succeed Dame Glenys Stacey when she steps down at the end of May after three years in the role, subject to a pre-appointment hearing by the Justice Select Committee.
Russell will resign from the civil service before taking up the independent role.
Before he was appointed to lead the MoJ’s contingency planning for a possible no-deal exit from the EU this month, Russell was DG for justice analysis and offender policy and for the MoJ’s offender reform and commissioning group. He was also senior responsible officer for its prison safety and reform programme.
The offender reform group’s responsibilities include oversight of prisons policy and interventions, youth justice reform, foreign national offenders and sponsorship of the MoJ’s arm’s-length bodies.
Before joining the ministry in October 2016, Russell was a director at the Department for Work and Pensions, where he headed up the production of a 2013 white paper on state pension reform. He also oversaw a reform of the Employment and Support Allowance, a benefit payment to support people who are unable to work because of illness or disability.
He has previously held various roles in the Home Office, including head of policy from 2007 to 2008, and then head of its violent crime unit up to 2012. Under the Tony Blair government he was a senior policy advisor on home affairs and Home Office policy at different times to two home secretaries, Jack Straw and John Reid, and the prime minister.
As chief probation inspector Russell will lead HM Inspectorate of Probation, which publishes reports on individual probation service areas as well as on broader topics such as how the probation service as a whole works with sex offenders. He will also produce and annual report.
The inspectorate’s latest report on the outsourced community rehabilitation company for Dorset, Devon and Cornwall was published last week. The report, publication of which coincided with the collapse of the CRC’s parent company Working Links, identified a number of major failings in how probation services were being carried out, including under-recording of riskier cases by probation staff because of commercial pressures.