STAFF shortages at the probation service were flagged up by inspectors.

HM Inspectorate of Probation visited the north west division of the National Probation Service and rated it good but said there were not enough staff to deliver its vision and strategy.

During the inspection in October 2018, there was a 20 per cent shortfall in the number of probation officers, around 140 posts. These probation officers are the frontline staff responsible for managing individuals who pose a high or very high risk of harm to others.

Dame Glenys Stacey, HM chief inspector of probation, said staff shortages were a long-standing problem, resulting in an “undue reliance” on more costly agency workers. She said: “Recruitment is centrally managed by the NPS.

"Local leaders are doing what they can to ameliorate the problem, but professional staff workloads are high.

"Despite these difficulties we found the quality of work was generally good.”

Some aspects of practice needed attention. “Domestic abuse and safeguarding checks were not always undertaken when required.”