Union calls for firms to be stripped of their role in the service
MINISTERS must rescind privatised probation contracts with “immediate effect,” probation officers demanded yesterday after a new report damned Tory “reforms” to the service.
In a joint report with prison inspectors, HM Chief Inspector of Probation Dame Glenys Stacey condemned the government’s flagship Through the Gate scheme, which aims to reduce reoffending by putting short-term prisoners on 12 months’ probation after their release.
Under the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation umbrella, all but the most high-risk cases have been farmed out to private “community rehabilitation companies” (CRCs).
Ms Stacey found “little change and little delivered” since she previously warned that the scheme was not being given priority on the ground.
She said the scheme is neglected and “pedestrian” CRCs instead give priority to work that is “rewarded with more immediate and more substantial payment.”
Inspectors raised warnings about the number of offenders on the scheme who had been recalled to prison.
The report also said that of 86 cases inspected, not a single person had been helped into employment.
More than a third of prisoners were released with nowhere to live and indebted offenders were given ineffective help.
Probation union Napo general secretary Ian Lawrence said: “Through the Gate has failed to help people find homes and employment, failed to prevent people committing further offences and failed the taxpayer by exposing victims of crime to even more danger.
“The HMI Probation report again illustrates what happens when politicians refuse to listen to expert advice and plough ahead with ideas that result in disaster.
“This reckless experiment with public safety, which Napo and many other organisations warned against, is a catastrophic example of political failure and its impact will be felt for many years.
“I urge the new secretary of state to rescind the CRC contracts with immediate effect, without any additional cost to the taxpayer.”
A BBC File on 4 documentary last night investigated the failings of the privatised probation service, with charities raising strong concerns that vulnerable women were being disproportionately affected.
Labour’s shadow prisons and probation minister Jo Stevens said: “Transforming Rehabilitation has failed and failed spectacularly.
“Labour, probation practitioners, their trade unions and other experts in the field repeatedly warned that Transforming Rehabilitation would do more harm than good. And we were right.”