Petition against Privatisation of the Probation Service


The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling, intends to privatise the 105 year old Probation Service. Our Probation Service is a precious public service – and to privatise it will be chaotic and will compromise public protection. Outsourcing the core work of the Probation Service to private firms on a ‘payment by results’ basis is unlikely to work in reality. There is no evidence that this scheme will deliver or that any provider can outperform Probation.

Why is this important?

It is concerning that under the Justice Secretary’s proposals 70% of Probation Service work will be delivered by private and voluntary providers. This will include child protection cases, violence against the person and domestic violence cases, offenders with vulnerabilities and mental health problems, sex offenders and offenders at high risk of reoffending, such as prolific burglars, chaotic drug users and gang members. This will mean only an approximate 50,000 offenders, of the 240,000 currently managed by Probation, will continue to be managed and rehabilitated by Probation. This will pose huge risks to the public and victims of crime, end the effective local community partnerships Probation has built up, and put approximately 18,000 Probation staff at risk of redundancy.

If the Probation Service is dismantled and privatised, many offenders will no longer be supported to make the necessary changes in their lives, as the ‘results’ may not be quick and lucrative enough to private firms. Privatisation of a service such as this is very risky, especially if it is money orientated, as true and accurate ‘results’ may not be reflected in reality. Businesses want to make profits, not losses. Low to medium risk offenders can turn into high risk offenders overnight. People working with offenders should be well trained and skilled professionals.

Public sector Probation should continue to deliver this function in its entirety – the Justice Minister must be urged to consider public safety and abandon his plans.


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