Barry Coppinger, speaking after a conference held at Cleveland police headquarters to examine the implications of the ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ proposals, said it was clear that the Government had given little or no thought to the different approaches needed to deal with women offenders.
The Commissioner, who supported the conference and made facilities available at the force headquarters in Ladgate Lane, backed the views of the House of Commons Justice Committee which has said that women were an ‘afterthought’ in the plans which will see responsibility for the management and supervision of most offenders removed from the public probation service and handed over the private contractors.
He explained “The overwhelming view within the criminal justice system is that the Government’s headlong rush to probation privatisation is both ill-thought out and fraught with potential dangers.
“The fragmentation which will occur as a result of putting what are categorised as low and medium risk offenders under the control of private contractors, whilst what is left of the public service is responsible for those classed as high risk is bound to increase risks—especially as in reality many offenders move between categories if the risk they pose to the public changes.
“At the conference a senior official from the Ministry of Justice attempted to reassure the agencies and organisation represented at the conference that the plans would not threaten service to women offenders but I do not believe she convinced many.
“The Chairman of the Justice Committee Lord Alan Beith stressed the need to recognise that women face very different hurdles from men in moving towards a law-abiding lifestyle—and, as the Howard League for Penal Reform has underlined, it seems that handing over probation services to big private security firms is the Government’s priority—and that will inevitably put at risk specialist services for women offenders.”
Posted on Wednesday 18th September 2013