THE Probation Service's scrutiny of some offenders has fallen to "unwise" levels because of new national standards, watchdogs warn.
Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Probation, Andrew Bridges, said the service had been left vulnerable in its ability to show it was protecting the public.
Investigating the way a new computer system - the Offender Assessment System or Oasys - was launched across England and Wales in April, Mr Bridges said probation officers were failing to place proper emphasis on the risk posed to the public by offenders.
"Risk of harm is not currently the central component of Oasys and any future development of the system needs to rectify this," he said in his report.
"A view was expressed that risk of harm felt like an add-on to the main function of Oasys.
"A number of probation staff lack the knowledge, skills and understanding to assess and manage risk of harm."
Time spent on assessing the risks posed by offenders had slipped as a consequence of introducing the new system, the report said.
Low risk offenders who were not put through a risk assessment could go on to commit a serious offence, it said, which would lead to "serious media criticism".
Frequent software updates were a "cause of some frustration", the report added.