Probation’s lobbying call at Whitehall

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

PROBATION staff descended on Whitehall to make their feelings known on plans to privatise the majority of their service.

Members of the National Association of Probation Officers (NAP), including representatives from the Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust, lobbied Parliament yesterday to raise its concerns about the Government’s plans to privatise 70 per cent of the probation service and how it will impact on communities.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright was expected to be among those being told of NAPO’s concerns.

It comes after NAPO warned strike action is likely in light of the Government proposals.

NAPO says the current service, which manages some of the most dangerous offenders, works effectively using a multi-agency partnership approach under the overall control of a publicly-run Probation Service, providing a “joined-up regime” and making the process more accountable to the public.

They add that the proposals will fragment this and cause the breakdown of relationships built up over time with other agencies such the police and social services.

Plans will put communities at risk and also provide a “perverse incentive” to the private sector to allow re-offending to increase and do not take account of the practicalities of managing the dynamic nature of risk of harm, warn NAPO.

NAPO general secretary Ian Lawrence said: “Our members feel so strongly about the risk to public safety from these dangerous proposals that industrial action is a racing certainty.

“We are currently balloting our members and expect a positive result.

“It is only the third time in 101 years that NAPO members have been balloted for action. It’s not too late for the Government to change tack and rethink its reforms.”

He said the Government plans would “dismantle an award-winning, highly effective Probation Service, that is performing better than it ever has at protecting the public and reducing re-offending”.