Probation staff protest over privatisation

Probation staff protest at government plans for the service in Market Square, Aylesbury
Probation staff protest at government plans for the service in Market Square, Aylesbury

Staff from Aylesbury Probation Office spent their lunch hour protesting at government reforms in Market Square today (Thursday).

The staff joined colleagues across the country protesting over plans set out by the Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling MP to privatise the bulk of the probation service.

They spent the time handing out leaflets and discussing with the public their concerns over the proposals, which will see regional probation trusts replaced by government companies which will tender out the work of supervising more than 225,000 offenders considered to present low or medium risk.

Those regarded as high risk will continue to be monitored by a slimmed-down national probation service.

Aylesbury probation officer Jenni Halliwell said: “We are concerned that these plans could put public safety at risk because offenders would be passed to private groups.”

She added that staff in Aylesbury would be affected by the move if it did get the green light.

She said: “Seventy per cent of us would then have to work for a private company, which we feel erodes our professionalism.

“Personally, we would like to see a decision made through Parliament and the official channels, and ultimately we would like to see probation kept within the public sector.”

The government’s ‘competition’ for £450 million worth of ‘rehabilitation contracts’ was launched today.

Mr Grayling said: “Today marks a crucial step forward to finally cracking our stubbornly high reoffending rates.

“Each year around 600,000 crimes are committed by those who have already broken the law – that is a dreadful figure and I am determined to bring it down.

“The scale of interest in these contracts from so many diverse and creative organisations is extremely encouraging.

“This is great news for the public who will finally benefit from the best of the private and voluntary sectors, working together with the public sector, to cut reoffending.”