14 December 2016. Embargoed: 00.05 15 December 2016
HMIP London – Damning report of probation services in London says public are more at risk due to poor management by the private sector.
Napo warned the government that its reckless privatisation of probation services would lead to greater public risk. This has now been confirmed by the Inspectorate with its most damning report to date. Whilst recognising that providing outstanding probation services in London have long been challenging, this report makes it clear that there has been a significant deterioration since 2014.
The failure to meet even the basic level of service required to ensure public safety is deeply worrying. A lack of awareness of domestic violence and child safeguarding issues could not be more serious. Responsibility for this failure must rest equally with the Ministry of Justice and MTC Novo. The problems in London are reflected in other HMIP reports since privatisation across England and Wales. The Ministry of Justice were responsible for testing the operating models of all those bidding for probation contracts and assured parliament that they were all safe. That is clearly not the case and Napo is calling for an urgent review of all the contracts so that they can be fully scrutinised by Parliament. The current review, which is due to conclude in April, is neither transparent nor urgent enough. If the government is serious about addressing these issue it must engage with the professionals that know the job.
Ian Lawrence General Secretary said: “This report is a damning indictment of this Government’s reckless social experiment. Despite our continued warnings and ongoing concerns of private companies failing to provide an adequate service, the Government continues to allow these providers to preside over the destruction of what was an award winning service. We urgently need probation services to be reviewed and publically scrutinised to ensure public safety, quality service delivery and value for money to the taxpayer.”
He added: “Whilst the union welcomes MTC Novo’s attempts to address some of the issues by changing its operating model there is still much work to be done to ensure public safety and the rehabilitation of offenders is carried out effectively. Napo believes that eventually one of these contracts either in London or elsewhere is going to fail. The Minister must now engage with all stakeholders to try to rebuild the service and hold failing contracts to account.”
Napo is concerned that the Minister is failing to grasp the urgency of this issue. The union is pressing for the Justice Select Committee to intervene, and recognise that there must be a robust and effective probation service if the government is to resolve the prisons crisis.