Ipswich Protest Against Probation Service Privatisation.
Thursday Lower Brook Street Ipswich. (Photo JB)
Members of the National Association of Probation Officers are joined by trade unionists and supporters of the Suffolk People’s Assembly.
Probation workers across the eastern region have taken to the streets today in protest at the government’s decision to privatise the service.
Across the country members of union Unison, along with colleagues from the GMB and National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO), held their joint protest to coincide with advertisements being placed by the Ministry of Justice in OJEU – the Official Journal of the European Union – inviting private sector bids.
Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Trust workers outside the offices in Palace Plain, Norwich said privatisation would axe services designed to keep communities safe, as well as introduce potentially dangerous cost cutting measures in the relentless pursuit of profit.
They also warned that among the list of likely bidders were Serco and G4S, both currently under investigation for alleged fraud in the running of previous MoJ contracts. EDP 24
Thousands of probation workers will join nationwide protests today to claim that public safety will be jeopardised by the Government’s plans to transfer the community supervision of most former offenders to private companies.
Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, is to signal his determination to push ahead with the £800m privatisation of the bulk of the National Probation Service, which traces its roots back to 1907. He will publish advertisements today inviting bids to take over around three-quarters of the service’s current workload.
Under the moves, the 35 existing regional probation trusts will be replaced by 21 government companies which will tender out the work of supervising more than 200,000 offenders each year considered to present low or medium risk. Those regarded as high risk will continue to be monitored by a slimmed-down national probation service.
Ministers insist their plans are essential to drive up standards in probation and to reduce reoffending levels. Six out of 10 people who leave prison are reconvicted within two years.
Potential bidders include such firms as G4S and Serco, which are both being investigated over alleged fraud in Ministry of Justice contracts. The sums paid to the successful companies or voluntary-sector organisations will be linked to their success in reducing offending rates.
Bidding has begun for probation service contracts worth £450m across England and Wales, the Ministry of Justice has announced.
Payment-by-results contracts are to be split between private companies and charities in 20 English regions and one Welsh region, officials said.
They will supervise 225,000 low and medium-risk offenders each year.
Senior probation officers have condemned the plans as “a disgrace and total failure”.
The competition will continue through 2014, with contracts awarded by 2015.
Under a system of 21 contracts, the voluntary groups, charities and private companies will only be paid in full if a certain proportion of offenders do not commit further crimes.