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Probation privatisation plan carries 'significant risk'

“COMPLEX and untested” government plans to privatise 70 per cent of the probation service carry “significant risk,” MPs warned yesterday.

The public accounts committee (PAC) warned of risks due to the speed with which ministers are pushing through its changes.

PAC chairwoman Margaret Hodge told the Ministry of Justice it must closely follow the changes involving bringing in private providers to avoid the problems which have haunted previous changes such as electronic tagging contracts.

The plans extend rehabilitation services to those sentenced to less than 12 months, an estimated 50,000 offenders — a 22 per cent increase on the numbers served last year.

“However the ministry could not tell us how this significant increase in the case load of probation staff would be managed,” added Ms Hodge.

Probation union Napo welcomed the findings.

General secretary Ian Lawrence said: “We have said all along that these plans are an untried and untested social experiment that simply cannot work in the timetable laid down.”

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