I have just been to an event organised by the Probation Association for MPs and Peers to meet probation trust chairs and chief executives. The intention was to broaden the understanding by Parliamentarians of probation – often regarded as the Cinderella of the criminal justice system. This was a laudable intention and there was a good turnout of members of both Houses.
What was striking, however, was how mono-ethnic the probation trust chief executives were. I spoke to Beverley Thompson, whom I first knew when she chaired the Metropolitan Police’s Independent Advisory Group. She is now the Acting Chief Executive of Northamptonshire Probation. However, as far as I could tell, she is the only black chief executive in the country – and an acting one at that.
Given the probation service’s workforce and the make-up of their clientele, I find this lack of senior black probation leaders surprising and depressing – it’s a bit like the Police Service.