MoJ confirms probation outsourcing

9 May 13
The government today confirmed plans to radically shrink the probation service and provide long-term supervision of all released prisoners, with services provided mainly by the private and voluntary sector.

By Vivienne Russell | 9 May 2013

The government today confirmed plans to radically shrink the probation service and provide long-term supervision of all released prisoners, with services provided mainly by the private and voluntary sector.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said the changes, first announced in January would be rolled out across England and Wales by 2015. Local probation trusts will be dismantled and the bulk of services outsourced on a payment-by-results basis. All prisoners will be supervised for at least a year after their release in an effort to reduce reoffending rates. Private and voluntary organisations will deal with low- and medium-risk offenders and a state-run national service will take on the most dangerous offenders.

Grayling said: ‘Tackling our stubbornly high reoffending rates has dogged successive governments for decades. These reforms represent a golden opportunity to finally turn the tide and put a stopper in the revolving door of the justice system.

‘It is simply not good enough that we spend £4bn a year on prisons and probation, and yet make no real dent in the appetite of offenders to commit more crime. It is little wonder when many of our most prolific criminals leave prison totally unsupervised in the community.’

The new approach will apply to all offenders, even those who are jailed for just a few days. It will be harder for them to move home while they are under supervision, to ensure continuity in their support.

According to the Ministry of Justice, the post-prison support will place a new focus on life management, helping ex-offenders to find employment and housing. Reformed offenders will also be involved as mentors.

But probation chiefs said it was a mistake to dismantle local probation trusts, which were high-performing organisations. They warned that payment-by-results contracts had not been tested and would fragment services and frustrate efforts to exchange information.

A statement issued by the Probation Association and the Probation Chiefs Association said: ‘The government is splitting offender management by risk – a move we are fundamentally opposed to as experienced providers of probation services. With no clear aspiration for the levels of payment by results in the new contracts, the rationale for excluding probation trusts from bidding remains unclear.’

The National Association of Probation Officers said it was ‘fantasy’ to divide the offender population into high, medium and low risk, as risks posed changed daily.

‘These plans are untested, uncosted and could put the public at risk,’ said Napo acting general secretary Ian Lawrence.

‘We share the view that short-term prisoners should be assisted on release but the minister has completely ignored the expertise and track record of the Probation Service. This is astonishing.’

Spacer

CIPFA logo

PF Jobsite logo

Did you enjoy this article?

AddToAny

Have your say

Top