Napo calls for a counter rehabilitation revolution

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At the TUC Congress 2018, Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence is calling for a counter-revolution to address the chronic state of the probation service.

Following Chris Grayling’s dogmatic and ideological privatisation called Transforming Rehabilitation (TR), in 2015, the Probation Service has been left in an unprecedented crisis. The Justice Select Committee concluded its inquiry into TR in July and found that all of Napo's predictions had not only come true but the situation was even worse than the unions and other stakeholders had thought possible.

The public National Probation Service is massively understaffed, and is so dysfunctional that it cannot pay its staff correctly or administrate pensions properly, leading to a national dispute.

Serious Further Offences (SFO) are on the increase and Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Probation has found nearly all of the private Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) are failing to provide even basic levels of supervision.

The Ministry of Justice announced at the beginning of the parliamentary recess that they acknowledged there was a crisis and it was taking action to address this. But, Napo believes that their new proposals are nowhere near enough to resolve the issues and that the government is still wedded to the marketisation of probation.

Ian Lawrence, General Secretary said: "We need the government to be brave and take strong action in light of the conclusions of the Justice Committee. The announcement by the MoJ simply means that the majority of private providers will be propped up to continue their failing business models which will cost the tax payer even more money and not address the issue that the model of a split and privatised probation service simply doesn't work. Probation must be brought back in to public ownership and meet the needs of local communities and be locally accountable."

Motion 67 calls on the TUC to support Napo in calling for a cross sector alliance to develop an alternative model and to lobby politicians to secure funding and legislation needed to deliver a better and safer model for probation.

Notes to editors:


Chris Grayling’s dogmatic ‘rehabilitation revolution’ was supposed to transform probation services and support for offenders on their release from prison. It saw the abolition of locally accountable, publicly funded Probation Trusts, but the main achievement was the ruinous division of an award winning service, leaving it in an unsustainable mess.  Private CRC contracts, despite additional funding by government of over £230M are still operating at a loss, prompting further dangerous staffing and service cuts. Napo believes it is no coincidence that Serious Further Offences have increased since this disastrous privatisation. 


The National Probation Service can’t recruit, pay or collect staff pensions adequately or consistently, further undermining morale. Calls to their HR department cost the taxpayer 88p a minute. The MoJ, following the qualification of recent accounts, is seemingly being run from the Treasury with every major financial decision taken by its auditors.

It is time for a Rehabilitation Counter-Revolution and a new model, built around consensus not dogma, where an independent, locally accountable, reunified and publicly funded core probation service is run in the public interest and not for profit. 

Congress calls on the TUC to facilitate and support unions in: 

  • Building a cross-sector alliance with HM Official Opposition, charities, public sector partners and supportive cross-party politicians and academics to develop a consensus and refine a new model.
  • Lobbying politicians to secure the funding and legislation needed to deliver a better, safer and more sustainable model for probation founded upon these principles.