Lord Falconer tells delegates it’s been treated like a football
LABOUR shadow Lord Chancellor called for probation to be renationalised yesterday, damning Tory privatisations as "absolutely scandalous" - and he also apologised for Labour's own failings.
Addressing probation officers at the annual general meeting of probation workers union Napo, Lord Falconer said he was "appalled by the arrogance of a government signing 10-year contracts... in order to tie the hands of any future government."
And he slammed ex-justice secretary Chris Grayling, saying: “A measure of how bad he was is that all of Michael Gove’s successes have involved overturning Grayling’s policies.
“Our justice system is crumbling and it’s about time we restored decent provision.”
Lord Falconer, a Blair loyalist who was reappointed to the shadow cabinet this summer after eight years on the back benches, also admitted his party had treated the service like “a football.”
And in an exclusive interview with the Morning Star, the senior peer says he is on board with Jeremy Corbyn’s plans to scrap employment tribunal fees.
The probation service was split by the previous coalition government in June last year, with all but the most serious cases farmed out to regional contractors, including outsourcing giant Sodexo.
In a Q&A session, East Midlands delegate Steve Bradley called for a “separate directorate for probation,” blasting New Labour for creating the mammoth National Offender Management Service (Noms), which also oversees prisons.
Lord Falconer defended the “principle to integrate” but slammed the “perpetual changing” of probation “since 1998/99.”
Four Shires delegate Gordon Jackson said New Labour reforms had paved the way for the Tory fragmentation of the service, and called for Lord Falconer to apologise.
The Labour spokesman, who previously served as Lord Chancellor but was not responsible for probation, conceded that “making probation a football in the way it has become was a very bad thing.”
“I do apologise for changes that were no more than practical changes,” he said.
Asked if he would commit to bringing the entire probation service back into public control, he said: “Probably the way this has to be done is to indicate that we won’t renew contracts.
“My position is that we should get out of the contracts as quickly as we financially and legally can.”