National Delegate Conference backs fight against making crime pay

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A report from our delegate at conference Tracey Galloway Smith

UNISON national delegate conference supported calls to continue and build the campaign against the privatisation of probation services yesterday morning.

Delegates in Brighton heard Sarah Crow for the national executive say that “introducing a profit motive to this area of our public services will be a disaster”.

She continued by noting that the plans for privatisation had been described in the Lords as a “complete distortion of the criminal Justice System while even the government’s own reports had illustrated the potential for serious problems, including increased danger to the public.

“A privatisated probation service will fail those who deserve it most,” said Eileen Best for the national women’s committee, saying that people with just one day of training would be in charge of cases of Domestic Violence

James Tattershall from Lancashire police observed that: “This government believes that it’s morally correct to make profit from crime and from some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“That’s what Mr Cameron wants to do – to make crime pay”.

Neil Richardson from the police and justice service group executive, said that the UK probation service had been around for over 100 years.

He said that it was admired globally for its work, but that the privatisation had “been fuelled by lies that we couldn’t reduce reoffending”.

Debate saw the plans described as “an experiment, that’s untried and untested”, with the likes of Serco and G4S, who have already “both overcharged taxpayers” for justice-related trusts, likely to be bidding as the process continues.

Alison Thomas from Wales said that privatisation was “a big risk to each and every one of you, the public

“Public safety will be low down the agenda” of the companies taking over the service, she added, “with profits being at the top

Frank Radcliffe from Eastern region probation, said that, “if this government gets its way, the police and crime commissioners will likely sell off the blue-light services,” such as the police itself.

And Martin Bedford from Dorset stated that, to this government, privatisation was “a dogma, an ideology” that was “morally, practically and financially wrong”.

Delegates backed a motion that set the executive a range of tasks, including working with branches, regions and the police and justice service group to organise the privatised workforce.