Labour Research September 2017


Tories must renationalise failing probation services

The Conservative government must bring failing privatised probation services back under public control, unions representing workers in the sector say. 

Last month, the NAPO probation officers’ union, UNISON public service union and GMB general union wrote to the lord chancellor and justice secretary David Lidington highlighting how controversial probation service reforms are not working.

The unions also called on the findings of a long-awaited review of the probation service to be published in full, along with details of the public money that has been spent keeping the privately-run regional community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) solvent.

The 21 privately-run CRCs were established in 2014 to manage low- to medium-risk offenders, and replaced the former probation trusts. They were awarded seven-year contracts worth a total of £3.7 billion, but nearly all have reported they are already making a loss.

Private Eye magazine reported in August that the Ministry of Justice had given a £277 million bail-out to the eight private companies which run the CRCs. 

NAPO general secretary Ian Lawrence said that warnings that privatisation “would damage an award-winning service, and standards would deteriorate” were “now becoming reality”. 

Privatisation was having “a negative impact on public safety, staff well-being and the ability of people who have committed offences to turn their lives around,” he added.