News Item

MOJ statement on the future of Probation

The Coalition has announced today that it is putting out to tender approximately 70% of the Probation Service’s core work. Ministers want this process to start this year. Probation therefore will lose all of its core responsibilities apart from public protection work with high risk offenders and the provision of information to the courts. All work is likely to be tendered on Payment by Results principles, although there is no evidence that this scheme will deliver. Probation Trusts will not be allowed to bid for the tendered work. This course of action represents the demise of the 105 year old Probation Service in England and Wales.

Harry Fletcher, Napo Assistant General Secretary, said: “This decision is astonishing. The Probation Service in England and Wales met all its targets during the financial year 2011/12. Indeed last year it won the prestigious British Quality Foundation Gold Award for Excellence, was commended on its work and told it was probably the best organisation to provide these services. This move, therefore, is purely ideological. It is being rushed through without proper thought to the consequences. Issues of accountability have not been dealt with. The policy flies against the government’s localism agenda; the government is proposing that the Probation Service is reorganised twice in six months, which is impossible; issues of transfer and pension deficits have not been resolved; there is no plan for dealing with the escalation or decline of risk of individual offenders. If this plan proceeds it will be chaotic and will compromise public protection”.

He added: “Some ministers may claim that the Probation Service is a failure because of high reoffending rates amongst short-term prisoners; but Probation has no statutory responsibility for supervising anybody sentenced to 12 months or less. Reoffending rates for the individuals that Probation does supervise are much improved; those who participate in programmes have a reoffending rate now of 35%. This is a success story that the government should be building on, not destroying”.