You may have been informed that the Government will make an announcement on the future of the Probation Service this week.
The details are not yet known but are likely to involve plans to privatise up to 70% of our work. The only work to remain in the public sector will be advice to the Courts and Parole Board and the management of high risk cases.
Please be assured that Napo is opposing these plans unequivocally and we are not alone. The Probation Association and the Probation Chiefs Association are voicing their concerns as well as Napo’s allies in the Houses of Parliament.
Sadly we have already had a taste of what’s to come. When Serco won the Community Payback competition in London, they offered warm words to the staff and senior management team. Minutes after the contract was signed, they made a third of the staff redundant.
The privatisation of justice will be a disaster: unaccountable, expensive and run in the interests of shareholders, not for the public. Take a look across the Atlantic and shudder. The big security companies have shafted the taxpayer out of millions in the tagging contract and are salivating at the prospect of more.
The shrinking pot of money for criminal justice will all be spent on overseeing contracts and complex procurement processes. The G4S fiasco at the Olympics and the West Coast mainline debacle tell you all you need to know about the Government’s competence.
Probation is a fantastically effective and efficient public service, as proved by our British Quality Foundation Award. Here’s what you need to do immediately to save it:
1. Write to your MP with your concerns about the privatisation of Probation and ask them to raise the issue in Parliament.
2. Recruit a colleague into Napo - strength in numbers really works and provides the resources for Napo to oppose the privatisation threat.
Meanwhile, at Napo HQ, we are working hard to get as much publicity behind our campaign as possible. We will always work constructively with Government but we are certainly not prepared to see Probation go down the pan on the back of a lazy and ideological whim.
The timing, if correct, must be seen as nothing but utterly cynical being so close to Christmas. With the Nation gently winding down for a well-deserved break and celebration, there is absolutely no hope of doing anything constructive by way of lobbying or organising any form of opposition until early January. All I can do is draw it to your attention readers.