AS public confidence in Britain's criminal justice system and probation service appears to decline with each new disastrous headline coming out of the Home Office, there is some good news at last for probation workers in North Yorkshire.
NY Probation among top performers
The county's Probation Service is celebrating after been ranked as one of the best in the country for meeting Government targets on dealing with offenders during 2005 - 2006.
On the weighted scorecard, which summarises overall performance and ranks probation areas, North Yorkshire was placed third out of the forty-two areas that make up the National Probation Service and is out-ranked only by Warwickshire and Derbyshire.
North Yorkshire was also recognised as the best performing area for employee's sickness absence which was an average 6.6 days per employee, against a Home Office target of 9 days.
The delivery of basic skills awards was another area of success for the service. North Yorkshire's targets for 2005 - 2006 was to get 435 offenders on to courses to achieve basic educational and vocational skills and to make sure 109 achieved basic awards.
In the event, the service says that 645 offenders went on to courses and that 137 have so far achieved basic skills awards. Bosses suggest this tangibly increases the likelihood of offenders finding employment; a factor which they point out is proven to effectively reduce the likelihood of re-offending.
The North Yorkshire service was also recognised in a number of other areas, including the amount of community service carried out by offenders, and the contribution made by probation officers in the production of court reports.
Our performance against the key targets set by Ministers improves year on year, despite some of the targets being made more challenging each year
Roz Brown - North Yorkshire Probation
Roz Brown, Chief Officer of North Yorkshire Probation said:
"I am absolutely delighted that we came 3rd in the whole country for our performance last year. This is a huge achievement and one of which we are justly proud.
"Our performance against the key targets set by Ministers improves year on year, despite some of the targets being made more challenging each year.
"I am enormously proud of our achievements and offer my personal thanks to our dedicated staff for the hard work that goes in to making this possible. Our work makes a real difference to the lives of the public in North Yorkshire - it is important work and this shows we do it well."