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Probation privatisation risks public safety, Commissioners warn

Houses-of-Parliament

The Government plans to privatise probation services.

Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger is one of a number of Commissioners warning that dangerous offenders could walk Britain’s streets unsupervised if the Government presses ahead with its reckless plans to privatise the Probation Service.

All 13 Labour Commissioners have written to the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to outline their serious concerns over the plans to outsource the vast bulk of probation’s work – and have urged him to think again.

The intervention comes on the eve of a debate in the House of Commons over the plans. The debate has been called by Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan and will be the first time that Parliament has had a chance to scrutinise the proposals.

Under the plans, the day–to-day management of 200,000 offenders who have been released in the community will be handed over to private companies. They include firms such as G4S and Serco – the same firms that stand accused of overcharging the Government tens of millions of pounds on electronic tagging of offenders.

Probation Trusts will be abolished under the plans – sweeping away the constructive relationships the trusts have built with voluntary groups, the private sector and public agencies such as the police.

Barry Coppinger said: “I’m extremely concerned about the impact the proposals will have in the Cleveland area.

“The partnership working, sharing of information and trusted relationships between criminal justice agencies and other partners which protect the public will be put at risk if these plans go ahead.

“As someone who has seen the considerable success of the Probation Service in protecting the public in the Cleveland area, I would hope that the Justice Secretary takes our concerns seriously and thinks again.”

Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd, who sent the letter to the Justice Secretary on behalf of the other Commissioners, said: “These plans have simply not been thought through. They are rushed, half-baked and reckless.

“We all agree that more needs to be done to reduce reoffending if we are to cut crime and make our communities safer. But dismantling the Probation Service is clearly not the way to do it.

“That this is being done so quickly, without any meaningful piloting or testing to see what works and what doesn’t is foolhardy. That it’s being done without the express approval of Parliament is disgraceful.

“It’s time for Chris Grayling to listen to the concerns which have been expressed about these plans across the board and work with police, Probation Trusts and other agencies to look at innovative ways to lower reoffending that does not endanger the public.”

 

Posted on Thursday 31st October 2013
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