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									Privateers to get claws into ex-offenders
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 22:59 -

Probation officers were left dumbstruck today after Con-Dem Justice Secretary Chris Grayling
airily announced plans to sell off their service to privateers.

Mr Grayling said he was looking to outsource supervision and rehab programmes for all but
the most high-risk ex-inmates to charities and private companies across England and Wales.

The plan would strip away an estimated 70 per cent of the Probation Service's core work, with
contractors paid by results in a manner similar to the Con-Dems' controversial work

Mr Grayling - who uniquely among lord chancellors has no legal training or experience in the
justice system - described his plan as a "rehabilitation revolution."

But the National Association of Probation Officers ridiculed the claim, calling his justifications
"purely ideological."

The union's assistant general secretary Harry Fletcher had predicted the push in an interview
with the Morning Star in November, saying he feared plans to increase the GPS tagging of
offenders were a pretext for slashing probation officers' numbers.

"It's all going to be delivered by the private sector. These will not be trained probation officers
monitoring them," he said.

"You're looking at 6,000 to 7,000 jobs lost because they want to make a profit out of
punishment - ultimately it will put public safety at risk."

Mr Fletcher called the decision "astonishing."

Privateers to get claws into ex-offenders
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 22:59 -

He said the service had met all its targets in the latest official figures and last year had won
the British Quality Foundation Gold Award for Excellence.

"This move, therefore, is purely ideological.

"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 said.

Allied opposition MPs were also left outraged. Justice unions parliamentary group chairman
Elfyn Llwyd called the plans "a triumph of ideology over common sense," while secretary John
McDonnell said the scheme was simply a pretext for privatisation.

"This has nothing to do with tackling crime but is simply opening up the service to profiteering
companies like G4S," he said.

Meanwhile in Wales, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM demanded Westminster hand
control directly to the Welsh National Assembly.

Former probation officer Ms Wood said the changes were a stark contrast to the service's
strong ethos of public service.

Privateers to get claws into ex-offenders
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 22:59 -

"Rarely has the quality of a service been improved through privatisation and, with the
Probation Service, the risks are too high."

There was now an even greater reason to devolve custodial powers to Wales, she said.


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