Bring probation contracts back into public control to avoid further disaster, says UNISON
Responding to today’s insolvency of Working Links – a company that oversees three outsourced probation contracts – UNISON national officer for police and justice Ben Priestley said:
“This privatisation has been a disaster and one that was long predicted. The government must immediately step in to bring these collapsed services back in-house.
“The priority is to reassure the public in the South West and Wales that communities will remain protected. Staff too need assurances about their jobs, and that they will still be paid.
“This is yet another catastrophe to be added to Chris Grayling’s growing record of failure. He was repeatedly warned when Justice Secretary that privatisation would fail. The collapse of these contracts is proof.
“Despite the chaos, the Ministry of Justice is still planning to award more probation contracts to private firms. Nearly half a billion pounds of public money has already been wasted propping up failing contracts.”
Notes to editors:
– UNISON has written a joint letter with Napo to the current Justice Secretary David Gauke urging him to bring the contracts back into the public sector and calling for urgent talks.
– Working Links operates three community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) in: Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire; Dorset, Devon and Cornwall; and Wales.
– In 2015, Chris Grayling announced reforms to probation services through the £3.7bn “Transforming Rehabilitation” programme. Under this, medium and low-risk cases were to be managed by 21 community rehabilitation companies. High-risk offenders continue to be handled by the National Probation Service.
– The Ministry of Justice announced in July 2018 that CRC contracts were to be shortened by two years, meaning they end in 2020. In a consultation that month, it said: “In a number of areas the quality of probation services being delivered is falling short of our expectations.”
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.
Further information will be available next week.