Tory ministers' market-based "rehabilitation revolution" has fatal flaws that will put the public at risk, probation officers warned today.
Union Napo hit out a week after Justice Secretary Chris Grayling hosted a high-profile summit to cook up the plans before launching a January consultation.
Business leaders, voluntary and community sector providers were all invited to the Whitehall meeting along with the probation service for England and Wales.
The Tories want to invite market forces into rehabilitation with a far bigger role for the private and voluntary sector.
Public-sector probation services would be left to deal with "our most serious and dangerous offenders."
Ministers even plan to dole out £500,000 in taxpayers' money to voluntary and community groups to help them bid for services.
Napo assistant general secretary Harry Fletcher said the proposals were "ideologically driven" and designed to prop up the private sector rather than solve a problem.
"The plans are being proposed despite overwhelming evidence showing that the probation service has met its targets," he said.
Probation services in England and Wales were awarded the British Quality Foundation gold medal for excellence last year
An early day motion tabled by Labour MP John McDonnell congratulating the service for its performance has been signed by 102 MPs including 12 Tories.
It notes that "no Probation Trust is deemed to be failing or in need of improvement; further notes that each Probation Trust in England and Wales is meeting its target on the production of court reports, victim satisfaction and the successful completion of orders or licences; and acknowledges the achievements of the Probation Service in England and Wales for carrying out its work efficiently and effectively."
Former Tory parliamentary undersecretary for prisons and youth justice Crispin Blunt is among the signatories.
Mr Fletcher said: "Privatising probation simply will not work and will undo all the hard work that has been done in the service.
"The proposals are vague, lack substance, are fatally flawed and will compromise public protection.
He said that the consultation would be a "sham" and predicted privatisation would fail.
"If the government goes ahead with these reforms it will be shooting itself in the foot as they are set to be as disastrous as their welfare to work scheme, where it has been shown that doing nothing would have been twice as effective."
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