Ministers ignore warnings of Shields probation officers

September 11, 2014

130904 - Emma Lewell Buck smallThis Tuesday Emma stood up in Parliament to raise the concerns of probation workers in Shields about the Government’s privatisation of the probation service.

Emma recently met with local staff who warned that the Government’s changes were putting clients at a greater risk of re-offending.  Earlier this month probation workers from across the country, including Shields, travelled to Parliament to lobby MPs on the issue.

The Government privatised part of the probation service in June.  While high risk cases are still managed by the public sector, responsibility for lower and moderate risk offenders are now going to be handled by a number of private companies.  

Speaking at Justice Questions, Emma asked the Justice Minister Andrew Selous:

“The probation service has warned of the disruptive effect of splitting up the probation system, and is already being proved correct. Dedicated officers in Shields tell me that long-standing and trusting relationships with clients have been cut short, which has made those individuals more difficult to engage, and, worse, more likely to reoffend. Why have the Government ignored those warnings?”

The Minister said that reoffending had been too high in the past, and that he believed the Government’s reforms would be “highly successful”.  You can read his full response by clicking here.

But probation workers disagree, with a recent survey showing over 90% believe that the service will suffer as a result of privatisation.  The National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) repeatedly warned the Government about the risks, but the Government continued to press ahead.

Emma voted with other Labour MPs to oppose the Offender Rehabilitation Bill when it was debated in the House of Commons last year.

Speaking after Justice Questions, Emma said:

“The Minister completely ignored the concerns of local probation workers.  They work with offenders every day and know the issues facing the service, but the Government has failed to listen to them at every stage of this privatisation process.  Now that their warnings are coming true the Government is determined to ignore the evidence as well.

“This is unacceptable, and puts the public at risk by taking a well-performing service, breaking it apart and putting it in the hands of private companies without the proper experience to do the job.”  

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