Napo, the trade union and professional association that represents probation staff, has renewed calls for the re-nationalisation of the probation service. The call follows a Justice Select Committee report which declared the service was a mess.
The report is extremely critical of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms brought in by the then Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling in 2014.
The ‘reforms’ saw 70% of the work undertaken by the probation service being outsourced to eight new providers. This was purported to open up the service to innovative ideas from the private sector and give greater access to the voluntary sector. The reforms also saw those sentenced to under 12 months custody receive statutory supervision for the first time. But they have been heavily criticised since the privatisation took place.
Now the Justice Select Committee, following an inquiry, has established that the service does not work. They say that they “are unconvinced that Transforming Rehabilitation can deliver an effective or viable probation service”. Napo welcomed the Committee’s findings which support all the issues the union has been raising with Ministers, parliamentarians and the public for the last four years.
Napo general secretary Ian Lawrence said: “This is the most damning report into Chris Grayling’s failed and highly expensive social experiment. Our members have told us throughout the last four years that the TR project is a failure and cannot be rectified. Despite our interventions with ministers, the Ministry of Justice has failed to take action and we now find ourselves in a desperate situation. The report’s conclusions provide overwhelming evidence that the probation service must be restored back into public ownership.”
He continued: “Our members have endured the biggest upheaval of a generation in probation. Their work has been de-professionalised and farmed off to private providers, they have seen colleagues made redundant, massive increases in their workloads and they have not had a pay rise in 3,000 days. It’s hardly surprising that morale is low. They knew from the outset that these so-called reforms would not work.
“I commend probation staff in the public and private sectors for their commitment to try to deliver a service under these intolerable conditions and for continuing to fight for the service they are so passionate about. They can now see that their concerns have been vindicated as this report highlights all of the issues that Napo has been campaigning about but which have been denied by this government.’’