21 November 2016 – embargoed until Tuesday 22 November, 00:01
Napo calls for urgent action on the probation service to assist the Government’s prison reform plans
Key figures in the criminal justice sector and probation services will meet today to discuss the future of probation. The Westminster Policy Forum are hosting the event where Ian Lawrence, General Secretary of Napo will address the forum and call for urgent action from the government to protect the probation service before it’s too late.
He will say: “Transforming Rehabilitation has been a failed social experiment from the start and probation services are now at crisis point. The government must take action to protect the services that are vital for public protection and rehabilitation. We cannot solve the prisons crisis if the direct alternative to custody is in chaos.”
Napo are calling for a licence to practice to be introduced to ensure that high standards of training are maintained and private providers are held to account for adequate staff training and resourcing.
Ian Lawrence will also say: “Our members are at breaking point with unmanageable workloads, staff shortages caused by excessive redundancies and an infrastructure that is falling apart. A licence to practice would help to maintain standards that best serve communities and clients.”
Since the privatisation of Community Rehabilitation Companies in 2014 there have been numerous damning reports by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Probation that have highlighted the current state of the service. Napo, the trade union and professional association for probation and family court staff believe that a failure to take action now could lead to the probation service disappearing altogether as private contractors see their income continue to fall and cut more and more staff to save money. Napo wants greater regulation in place to hold both the public and the private sector to account and to ensure that specialist skills of probation staff are not lost altogether in a race to save money.
Ian Lawrence will add: “If this government is serious about prison reform it must ensure that probation services are effective at keeping people out of prison in the first place and offering a real rehabilitative alternative to custody. This is not the case at the moment with many providers failing to deliver even a basic service. We believe that if these contractors cannot deliver what is on the tin, then it is time for these contracts to be brought back into public ownership.”
Napo will be meeting with the minister for prisons and probation in the coming weeks to discuss the current situation and continue to press for urgent action.
For further information and possible media opportunities please contact Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence on 07788 118005 or Tania Bassett (lead for media and parliamentary issues) on 0790 4184195.