Tens of thousands of "medium risk" offenders will be cut loose from probation service supervision under the coalition's "chaotic and dangerous" sell-off plans, workers in the industry warned today.
About 2,300 sex offenders, around 3,200 gang members, 8,400 people convicted of domestic violence and 15,900 robbery cases are among those who, under Justice Secretary Chris Grayling's proposals, would be "monitored" by private firms including serial bunglers G4S and Serco.
Medium risk is officially defined as "the offender has the potential to cause harm but is unlikely to do so unless there is change of circumstances."
But probation workers' union Napo said that most medium-risk offenders had multiple problems which can change dramatically and would put victims at risk, while around 80 per cent of further serious offences are committed by low or medium-risk offenders.
The union has compiled a dossier of over 50 examples including cases of child abuse, harassment over the internet, intent to cause grievous bodily harm, unlawful wounding and instances of repeated domestic violence.
In many cases the offender is in a gang and the offending is gang-related.
Napo assistant general secretary Harry Fletcher said: "Splitting up offenders between the public and private sector according to risk threatens public protection.
"Offenders are generally not a compliant, problem-free group of people.
"They disproportionately suffer from mental illness, are four times more likely than the general population to misuse drugs and are 10 times more likely to have been in care.
"They need to be supervised by experienced staff who can motivate them and properly assess risk."
Under Mr Grayling's plans lower-risk offenders will be supervised by private firms and charities on a payment by results basis under Mr Grayling's "rehabilitation revolution," while prisoners serving less than 12 months will undertake a period of rehab upon release for the first time.
Mr Fletcher branded the plan to outsource the supervision of medium and low-risk offenders as "a disaster waiting to happen.
"The proposals are bureaucratic, costly and not thought through. They will undermine public protection and need to be independently evaluated before proceeding."
But Justice Minister Jeremy Wright accused Napo of "scaremongering."
"Our reforms will not compromise public safety. We will harness the best of the public, voluntary and private sectors and I'm absolutely confident all three can work together to manage risk and protect the public," he said.
However the coalition has been accused of launching a triple assault on the justice system, with swingeing cuts to policing, prisons and probation services.
The Prison Officers Association lobbied MPs last week over prison closures, cuts and privatisation.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond believes himself vindicated by the High Court ruling that his Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) is independent.
A look at the causes and possible outcomes of Silvio Berlusconi and his right-wing coalition's lead in the polls.
Attacks such as yesterday's horrific murder in Woolwich didn't happen before the 'war on terror.' It's time we recognised the consequences of the conflicts we've unleashed